Urban Design

PROYFIN believes that walkable and mixed use development created through strategies that promote urban infill, contextual development and redevelopment of existing areas can create better sustainable communities. We believe that planning and design must been able to learn from the past and use present ideas in order to address sustainability, cultural and architectural issues that require specific solutions. Our work have always a focus on creating memorable spaces and buildings with a “sense of place.”

PROYFIN believes that Urban Design guidelines and regulations can contribute to create a memorable city identity and image, stimulate investment, increase property values and enhance the community’s unique identity. Our firm have a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between urban design, planning and infrastructure, and the environmental and fiscal issues that need to be taken into consideration when adopting recommendations and regulations that address urban design issues. In some cases, revisions of existing guidelines and regulations can yield great results; in other cases new regulations or guidelines that can better address new conditions will need to be pursued.

We believe that the public participation process is crucial when adopting new plans and regulations. Charettes, public meetings, websites and social media are some of the tools that we use for an effective public participation process.

New guidelines, recommendations and regulations must be understood by a wide audience including property owners, residents, community members and public administrators. In order to achieve this and to make sure that they comply with the existing legal framework we use a simple language and include  legal experts in the planning process and when reviewing a final documents.

Our knowledge of zoning regulations, subdivision regulations, existing land uses, financial feasibility scenarios  and building typologies allow us better understand market trends and make recommendations that can be implemented by private developers and adopted by government agencies.

PROYFIN believes that compact, mixed use districts and neighborhood are directly related to more sustainable development. Compact mixed use development allow for transportation alternatives such bike lines, complete streets and light rail or BRT.  Traditional architectural elements such as extended eaves, porches, and louvers can become important green design features. Urban infill development can contribute to conserve open land, reduce infrastructure costs and implement transportation alternatives. Landscaped areas that include native species provide natural cooling elements and help to reduce the heat island effect. We have conducted extensive research about different approaches that can be used to define open spaces and streetscapes, create pedestrian oriented environments and provide incentives that create sustainable developments with a “sense of place.”

Our firm believes that Urban Design concepts can be addressed and implemented by a set of guidelines or regulations. In general, urban design guidelines are a set of recommendations that could be included in comprehensive plans, land use plans or area plans that address issues related to the public realm, site development, signage, open space and landscape. Urban design issues can also be regulated including development standards or design standard in zoning ordinances, subdivision ordinance, uniform development codes. Urban Design Guidelines can apply to a city, land uses or to specific areas. And can be included in the Urban Design element of the a Land Use Plan or Comprehensive Plan but usually more specific Urban Design Guidelines are included in Area Plan or Specific Plans.

 

Our planning and urban design process starts with identifying the positive elements of a community that should be enhanced or preserved in order to strengthen the community overall image and create a “sense of place.” At the same time we identify the negative elements such as lack of landscaping at key locations, blank wall along pedestrian oriented streets, poorly sign designs, etc., that do not contribute to create a positive city image.

In order to make the development review process easier for the applicants and public administrator, our firm can help to combine zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations and other regulations into a unified development code. Since our focus is always on sustainable and effective implementation we have the ability to test the proposed regulations using a market approach that takes into account market trends and financial analysis based on different scenarios.

Design guidelines and recommendations can identify, explain and illustrate various urban design concepts and help developers, designers, staff, and elected and appointed official when reviewing development proposals. In addition, design guidelines concepts and recommendation can be used when updating Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances, Overlay districts or Uniform Development Codes.

We believe that open spaces, squares and streets act as “urban rooms” and in order to create memorable districts with a “sense of place” communities need to understand how to define these “urban rooms.” Elements such as building facades, trees, and fences are critical to defining urban and rural districts.

PROYFIN believes that the integration of the existing public realm with any new proposed development can create attractive communities with identifiable places where people feel comfortable and attracted to visit. This process can be achieved by addressing block and streets, wall transparency, landscape, building setbacks, massing and heights and architectural articulation. Addressing these issues a community can create public spaces, streets that have a human scale and attract pedestrian activity.

Our work is focused in creating open spaces with identifiable edges that help define streetscapes, squares, or corridors; creating an interconnected street network that provides more circulation alternatives and more direct routes between destinations; enhancing and including focal points such as unique building or structure at key locations; promoting pedestrian oriented neighborhoods and districts; and above all emphasizing sustainability policies and regulations.

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