PEOPLE AND PASEOS | Landscape architecture magazine



As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will make selected stories available to readers in Spanish.

It is probably a fantasy of many landscape architects: to design an entire neighborhood without having to consider a single car. Buildings separated not by wide streets congested by traffic, but by paseos or gentle and shaded walks. Apartments opening onto European courtyards. Every square foot of open space devoted to people.

Kristina Floor, FASLA, is building this dream. For two years, she and her team of Floor associates, who is based in Phoenix, led the design of the Culdesac Tempe site, a 761-unit, 16-acre mixed-use development in Tempe, Ariz., in which private cars are prohibited. Comprised of two- and three-story apartment buildings arranged around courtyards, the development has no garages, no “parking podiums” – the latest urban workaround that hides all parking on the first levels of the building. ‘an otherwise unremarkable development – and nothing you’d even call a street, which ultimately leaves plenty of room for people.

“What happens on so many projects, with the amount of parking you have to put in, is that most of your landscape is a perimeter landscape or a parking lot landscape,” says Floor. In Culdesac, which is under construction and will open in the summer of 2022, Floor says they are “designing spaces for people.”

The accommodations are grouped around common courtyards with plants adapted to the desert and decomposed granite. The majority of the site is permeable. Image courtesy of Culdesac.

Culdesac Tempe is part of a growing movement among cities to rethink how much parking they need. New Haven, Connecticut, and St. Paul, Minnesota, both recently voted to remove mandatory parking minimums, which have long been seen as a barrier to both building low-cost housing and cutting Americans off. their dependence on automobiles. And across the country, existing road infrastructure is being upgraded to create active transportation networks, costing cities dearly. Culdesac represents an opportunity to design for the independence of the car from the start.

The only car park in Culdesac is reserved for shops and commercial spaces. The rest of the development is car free. Image courtesy of Culdesac.

Located right next to a stop on the area’s Valley Metro light rail line, the development will provide residents with a “mobility suite,” including free and unlimited light rail rides and subsidized scooter fares. electric, carpooling and carpooling. The design, carried out in collaboration with the urban design firm based in Berkeley, California Optical, locates commercial and commercial uses in the corner closest to the station (to which a new pedestrian crossing will be added soon) and organizes the site around a central paseo. The paseo winds through the site, connecting to the surrounding road network via a maze of secondary rights-of-way.

The result is a whole new community that feels installed, reminiscent of the centers of old European cities, an ambience the design team embraced. “The concept was to make it look like it’s been around for a while,” says Floor. This effect is partially achieved through the extensive use of decomposed granite, the landscaping material of choice for everything from oasis-like residential courtyards to retail parking lots. More than half of Culdesac Tempe is open space, and 85 percent of it is permeable. “We have no asphalt on the whole site,” says Lava Sunder, Culdesac Tempe’s General manager.

The landscape also plays a role in orientation. Helping residents and visitors navigate the neighborhood, which has over a dozen residential “pods” of eight to 10 buildings each and no street names, was a challenge. “You don’t always arrive by car and there is no front door. There are a thousand front doors, ”says Floor. “So we had to know how can we help guide people to where they want to go? In addition to the use of color and architectural detail, a palette of native desert plants (unlike the more lush plantings in the courtyards) and other landscape elements help designate major thoroughfares.

Kristina Floor, FASLA, participates in one of the many three-day design carts with the Culdesac Tempe team. Photo courtesy of Culdesac.

These and other questions were explored through a series of Opticos carts held in Berkeley. The design team sketched, built models, tested ideas. It was an unusually free exploration of the look, feel and function of a place, with no discussions of square footage or return on investment, says Floor. ” I loved it. I was like, that’s how I want to do every project in the future.


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