Urban Landscapes, LLC is the operating name for my new company in Colorado Springs. Over the past 14 years in Colorado Springs, it has been a pleasure to work with so many different individuals and organizations. With each venture in this time, I have gained valuable experience and insight into the types of work that I am most passionate. With this experience, my goal is to take all of the best attributes and focus them toward creating great places.
I am fortunate to have a wife and three wonderful children who provide a great deal of support and insight into creating great places. I learn from their experiences (along with my own) and take note when an experience is either positive or negative. There is a lot to be learned from kids, as they show their emotions readily and often unknowingly.
My son has already made a significant impact on the business unsolicited. He, and my two daughters, love to sketch and draw. He also loves football and is fascinated with team logos, sketching them daily. He decided that “my team, Urban Landscapes” needed a logo. I was indifferent to the conversation initially, until he started to explain to me his drawing, emphasizing the importance of the circle and how the letters need to work with the arc. Although, I cleaned it up, the end result is the Urban Landscapes ‘Team Logo’ which is far better than anything I had in my mind, and something that is now very special to me, because it came from him.
My operation plan for Urban Landscapes is scaled-based and it really evolves around the tenets of the new urbanism (cnu.org) and sustainable placemaking. As it has been the case for several years now, it continues to be very important to me to put my community first and create lovable places that can be sustained for generations. I will continue to provide discounted services for the non-profits that need it and make a difference in our community. I love to support passionate individuals who strive to make Colorado Springs a better place (See blog post Helping to Create a Greater Colorado Springs). Today, I sit on the following boards that align with these values:
I find myself involved in projects at the following scales of development: The Infill Site; The Block; The District; and The Town.
The Infill Site | Over the past decade, I’ve always enjoyed the scale of the block and working with architects to best optimize for density and added value. In most instances, density and quality urban design are synonymous. The careful placement and relationships between buildings and units are critical, I love to be involved early on in working with the Architect in building these relationships as I assist an infill project through the jurisdictional entitlement process and when applicable, through a rezoning.
The Block | The scale of the urban block is a fascinating scale to work, which is most often accomplished with a single owner, but not always. This scale is multi-faceted with the calibration of a streetscape to the needs of the building uses, the pedestrian and the automobile. I have enjoyed these projects and hearing from the businesses along the block, as they are really the location experts of what currently works and what does not. I believe that each block in each segment of a town requires careful calibration. A streetscape needs to be more than just bricks, benches, bulbs, banners, and balloons.
The District | Providing a guiding framework of standards and guidelines for the district level is where I initially cut my teeth in the world of the new urbanism. The scale of this district I’ve provided services vary from four to five blocks to the first that I was a part of, which was four-square miles (Destination Midtown, in Omaha with HDR, Inc.). This scale requires great focus and an understanding of the various daily users of the place. Generally speaking, this is a redevelopment-focused scale, however it may also be in the creation of a new place.
The Town | I have enjoyed working several towns in Colorado and continue to do so today. The scale of providing master planning or a new land use code for a town can be as simple or as complex as the policy makers and the consultant make it. While this may be a limiting factor to the work that I do, I am cautious about choosing the right towns to provide services. I have very little interest in providing a plan that will either sit on the shelf or a plan that does not make the positive economic and livability effect for its place. I believe in creating value, which when done right, is rarely a simple task.
The past seven weeks, I found myself in the midst of all scales with the writing of a new form-based code for what would be a new town situated between Ft. Collins and Denver, Hylandtown. I will have much more to say about this wonderful Omni Urbanism experience over the coming months.