Walking the Walk


Urban design from the front lines

Kevin Klinkenberg

Using urban design to make our lives more enjoyable and create wealth

This site is for all those interested in the making of cities and towns, and especially the lives of the humans that inhabit them. Kevin Klinkenberg is an architect and urban designer who's practiced from coast-to-coast. 

Revitalizing early suburbs

Robert Steuteville writes about the keys to revitalizing South Miami:

South Miami was an early suburb — it was built from the 1930s through the 1960s, with the fastest growth in the 1950s. Like many early suburbs, it benefits from a street grid and small parcels, which allow lot-by-lot rebuilding. South Miami's center languished for decades before getting a rail station in 1984. Revitalization of the main street area, now called Hometown, didn't begin in earnest until about 2000 — following the strategy of Dover Kohl, which has its offices there.

In this nifty video filled with excellent graphics, the firm explains in detail how the revival took place. Here's the formula:

1) Build walkable streets
2) Require street-oriented architecture
3) Embrace a mix of uses
4) Share parking with garages
5) Embrace transit

I've embedded the video below. It's no doubt also a promotional video for Dover Kohl & Partners, but it's worth the watch to see how an early suburb can remake itself.

As Rob noted above, South Miami does clearly benefit from the attributes of early suburbs. That street grid component is critical, since it provides the framework for everything else. I would also add that the work that was done to enhance public space is also fundamental - it's the wide sidewalks, plazas and more where people like to congregate that help to give life and attract other people.

 
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