The College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley was founded in 1959 on the radical premise that the new field of environmental design was fundamental to the future of urban settlement. This premise is as valid today as it was then. But many of the specific challenges facing cities were not on our radar in the 1950s — nor were the sorts of challenges facing public higher education today.
With this context in mind, in 2012 CED launched a collaborative strategic planning project to map a future that inspires us to respond to the demands of our time. This process articulated our vision and values, and created a roadmap for distinction and impact: CED Frontiers. I’m delighted to share the highlights of our plan in this issue of FRAMEWORKS.
CED’s 21st Century Vision, Values and Goals
The College of Environmental Design provides leadership to address the world’s most pressing urban challenges through rigorous research and scholarship, design excellence, innovative pedagogy, open debate, craft and skill-building, critical and theoretical practice, and insights from both the academy and professional practice. Within this broad vision, we value:
Excellent and accessible public higher education
Sustainable design, planning and urbanism
Aesthetic quality, craft, and technological innovation
Visionary yet pragmatic design practice
Critical pedagogy and cross-disciplinary learning
Social, economic, and environmental justice
Ecological and public health
Local-global engagement and activism
Respect for place, community, and diversity
Ethical professional practice and research
Moving forward, we aspire to achieve six key goals:
1. Claim the Berkeley difference, building on our heritage of design and planning activism
2. Embrace diverse standpoints, experimenting with new ways to understand and embrace social difference
3. Bridge intellectual fault lines, crossing the boundaries of established disciplines to create new knowledge
4. Span local and global, linking multiple scales of understanding, activism, and practice
5. Assess environmental design performance, related to adaptation, resilience, and sustainability
6. Transform professional practice, from today’s best practices to practices for the future
Six Game-Changing Initiatives
Our vision, values and goals set our course, and concrete initiatives allow us to achieve them. Together, the CED community identified “game-changing” initiatives that are: clear and actionable; mobilize human and physical resources; lead to institutional transformation; and promote recognition of CED’s leadership. They aspire to extend the impact of our research and creative practice, create inclusive and cross-disciplinary pedagogy, and transform our home in Wurster Hall to encourage collaboration and the sharing of new ideas.
EXTENDING THE REACH OF RESEARCH & CREATIVE PRACTICE
Initiative 1: Research Impact
To better support research at CED, this initiative would assist the Center for Environmental Design Research (CEDR) and the Institute for Urban & Regional Development (IURD) to broaden their reach and influence, grow faculty involvement and participation, and improve our capacity to communicate research results and creative accomplishments. Major action: New associate dean for research to coordinate and disseminate research.
Initiative 2: Design and Technology Lab
To spur design innovation at CED, this initiative proposes a design and technology lab for design experimentation, product and materials research, rapid prototyping, and CAD/CAM innovation. Such a lab would also attract partners and become a venue for professional dialogue. Major action: Establishment of CED Design and Technology Lab.
CREATING INCLUSIVE & CROSS-DISCIPLINARY PEDAGOGY
Initiative 3: Diversity Platforms
This initiative will enhance the cultural life of the College by developing co-curricular programs (such as cultural events, student-led courses, and public interest charrettes) to introduce students to the relational, interconnected and hybrid nature of increasingly globalized identities. Major actions: New curriculum and events focused on diversity, identity, and the built environment.
Initiative 4: Curriculum Crossroads
To promote interdisciplinary work within CED, this initiative will create all-college curriculum, debates, joint research, and curated conversations that span intellectual fault lines, build disciplinary and geographic bridges, and address contemporary and future problems. Major action: Super-studio opportunities for all CED students integrated into curriculum.
BUILDING COMMUNITY SPACES & COMMON GROUND
Initiative 5: Flex Studios
This initiative focuses on redesigning studio space with flexible, movable furnishings and collaborative space, to provide multiple platforms for creativity, research and design collaboration, and to allow learning spaces to serve as better models for collaborative professional practice. Major action: CED Campaign for 21st Century Studios.
Initiative 6: Networked Spaces
Creating additional collective social and public spaces, this initiative will serve to build CED identity; promote cross-unit, cross-cohort, and cross-cultural interaction; curate student and faculty design work; and build shared cultural spaces for intellectual and professional debate, design exploration, collaboration and sociality. Major action: New café/patio space and redesigned review spaces.
The strategic planning process generated a wealth of ideas and proposals, productive disagreements, and new commitments to collaborate and innovate. Stay tuned as the plan unfolds, and CED moves onward and upward!
In this Fall 2012 issue of FRAMEWORKS, I am pleased to offer some important news of the college. First, Deborah Berke, the New York City-based architect widely recognized for her design excellence, scholarly achievement and commitment to moving the practice of architecture forward in innovative ways, has been selected as the first recipient of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design inaugural 2012 Berkeley-Rupp Architecture Professorship and Prize. I could not be more delighted, for Deborah Berke exemplifies everything this prize is meant to celebrate. The excellence of her craft, her creative approach to sustainability, and her willingness to mentor women in the field and share her ideas and expertise make her the perfect person to receive the inaugural Berkeley-Rupp Prize and Professorship.
The Berkeley-Rupp Prize and Professorship, a $100,000 award made possible through a generous bequest to the campus by alumna Sigrid Lorenzen Rupp, is to be awarded biennially to a distinguished practitioner or academic who has made a significant contribution to promoting the advancement of women in the field of architecture, and whose work emphasizes a commitment to sustainability and the community.
Deborah Berke is founder of the New York City-based architecture firm Deborah Berke Partners, and is also an adjunct professor of architectural design at Yale University. Please save the date: Deborah will deliver a public lecture the evening of January 28 at Wurster Hall Gallery at the opening of an exhibit of her work.
Turning to faculty news, over the past three years, generous donors have endowed four professorial chairs, through $1 million gifts matched by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. I am delighted to report that Associate Professor of Architecture C. Greig Crysler has been appointed the Arcus Chair in Gender, Sexuality, and the Built Environment. Named after the Arcus Foundation, a private philanthropic organization founded by Jon Stryker, the chair builds on the work of the Arcus Endowment he established in 2000. Energetically led by Greig, the Endowment has sponsored a rich program including research grants and awards, installations and exhibits, and a visiting scholar-in-residence program.
Greig’s research focuses on the history of architectural theory, and the role of architecture in processes such as nationalism, globalization, and the cultural politics of difference. His books include, Writing Spaces: Discourses of Architecture, Urbanism and the Built Environment, 1960–2000 (2003) and he is co-editor, with Stephen Cairns and Hilde Heynen, of the Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory (2012). Greig, who served as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies from 2008–2012, offers courses at the intersection between architecture, ethics and activism.
Lastly, I am happy to report that CED has embarked on an ambitious strategic planning exercise. The College of Environmental Design, founded in 1959, was premised on a shared vision and deep commitments to social responsibility, a place-based approach to design, and allowing students to shape their educational experience. With generous state resources, CED faculty went on to build specific disciplinary strengths and pedagogical models that together became the enduring signature of the college. Fast forward to today, and it is clear things have radically changed. New challenges face cities and regions around the world. Faculty have new interests, intellectual frameworks and methodological tools. Different sorts of careers are open to those with a CED degree. And with less than 11% of UC Berkeley’s revenue coming from state general funds, the financial context of UC Berkeley and hence the college is very different compared to 1959.
With these dynamics in mind, I asked the CED faculty last spring to undertake a strategic plan for the college. The basic charge was to address three fundamental questions: What new societal problems, intellectual arenas, and design challenges should we tackle in the future? How should our pedagogy change to reflect these new directions? And how can we maintain both academic excellence and access to a CED education?
The faculty response was enthusiastic and positive. Together, we are committed to producing a brief, elegant statement of vision and values developed on the basis of input from faculty, alumni, students, and staff. We will also establish a series of concrete, funded initiatives that will move us from vision to implementation. In the process, we aim to invent a college culture and practice for the 21st century.
On December 26, 2004 a massive undersea earthquake in the Andaman-Sumatran subduction zone spawned a huge tsunami that killed over 200,000 people in countries bordered by the Indian Ocean. Thailand suffered widespread damage in six southern provinces.
Dwellings were damaged or destroyed. Natural resources — coral reefs, beaches, mangrove areas and freshwater aquifers — sustained extensive damage. Also hard-hit was public infrastructure, such as fish and shrimp farms, landfills, and wastewater systems. Rebuilding and recovery have been uneven and slow. Tourist areas with casualty-insured facilities are recovering the fastest, while local settlements with little insurance coverage and unclear property rights are slow to rebuild.
In most areas, the focus is on near-term recovery rather than long-term issues. But broader questions need answers — what role should tourism play in Southern Thailand? What should be the balance between environmental protection and cultural preservation and the economic benefits of tourism activities?
In February 2005, the University of California at Berkeley, Chulalongkorn University, and the Thai Public Policy Foundation formed a partnership to provide technical assistance to help shape long-term strategic planning in the Andaman coastal region. The project began when Chote Soponpanich, President of the Thai Public Policy Foundation, contacted Chancellor Robert Birgeneau of UC Berkeley to ask how the university could provide technical assistance for tsunami relief. Building on a previously successful partnership between the Thai Public Policy Foundation, UC Berkeley’s Department of City and Regional Planning and Goldman School of Public Policy, and Chulalongkorn University Social Science Research Institute, the three institutions decided to work together. Short-term humanitarian aid was abundant, so the team envisioned a project focusing on long-term strategic planning for tourism, given the needs of the impacted tourist areas and the partners’ combined expertise.
During the week of March 21-25, 2005 the partners visited three provinces — Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga — assessing conditions and defining the project. They met with local elected officials, planners, and community leaders, conducting interviews and visiting tsunami-inundated areas, where they assessed local technical capacity, surveyed the scale of international humanitarian assistance activities, and gauged the level of interest of each of the provinces in receiving long-term strategic planning assistance. In Bangkok the partners also met with government officials to learn about ongoing planning activities.
Based on these field visits and discussions with Chulalongkorn faculty and the Thai Public Policy Foundation Board of Directors, the partnership agreed to concentrate efforts on Krabi Province, developing an overall strategic framework, focusing on sustainable tourism development, community development and income generation, and regional level infrastructure needs. In addition, the partnership agreed to develop an active community participation process to engage stakeholders and reflect their views in the final product.
On May 23, 2005 in Bangkok, 20 graduate students and six faculty from Chulalongkorn and Berkeley met to form the project team. Participants had backgrounds in city planning, architecture, government, and landscape architecture. After briefings, the team traveled to Krabi Province to begin the project. From May 26 to June 4, they met with local government officials, business leaders, community groups and tourists, then on June 5 returned to Bangkok to prepare the strategic plan and presentation.
Tourism’s rapid expansion in southern Thailand provides economic benefits for many, but affects many facets of daily life. In Krabi Province, tourism’s pluses can drive the region’s development and growth, creating jobs and generating local government revenues. Tourism’s minuses include environmental degradation, social dependency, underdevelopment, and adverse socio-cultural effects, especially for rural populations. The tsunami’s aftermath offers the opportunity to assess benefits and costs of tourism, and to reframe a tourism strategy that is environmentally sustainable, economically productive, and socially acceptable.
Stakeholder meetings, informal interviews, and extensive fieldwork throughout the province allowed researchers to collect both qualitative and quantitative data on the province’s existing conditions. The team identified issues surrounding sustainable tourism development, environmental protection, community development, income generation, and regional level infrastructure needs. Back in Bangkok, the team used a strategic planning and scenario assessment method to assess tourism strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and to consider possible future strategies.
The region’s rebuilding provides a unique opportunity to develop long-term strategies for guiding future development. The resulting Strategic Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development in Krabi Province discusses the direct and indirect economic, social, and environmental linkages between the distinct sectors and stakeholder groups within the province and shows how their activities may affect Krabi Province’s future.
In describing the approach and method of the project, the Strategic Plan provides a general overview of Krabi Province, and discusses tourism trends from international, national, regional and provincial perspectives. The report also presents a vision of sustainable tourism, an assessment of the province’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (a SWOT analysis), and three tourism strategies. Then, using a scenario planning process, each strategy’s likely performance is evaluated. Finally, the report summarizes the results of the scenario analysis and proposes a range of implementation options for consideration. In addition, it outlines the next steps that should be taken to achieve sustainable tourism in Krabi Province.
The Strategic Plan differs from, and complements existing, national, regional and provincial plans in several important ways. First, alternative tourism strategies are tested against external scenarios to gauge resiliency. Second, communities and residents are viewed as main drivers behind tourism management and planning, not just as economic stakeholders. Third, tourism is viewed not as a sector in and of itself, but in the broader context of the province’s whole economy, with tourists as integral stakeholders, not just a source of external demand.
Researchers developed three distinct tourism strategies: Krabi Riviera, Krabi Highlights and Krabi Discovery. Krabi Riviera is a market-led laissez faire approach emphasizing mass tourism. Krabi’s beaches and islands become the main draw for tourism activity, with most development occurring along the coast, concentrating on large coastal resorts and supporting facilities. Fragile ecological areas such as mangrove forests, wetlands, and other critical habitat open to development of resorts, hotels, and other tourist amenities, taking precedence over the quality of tourism and community life.
Krabi Highlights, a government-led strategy promoting nodal development with greater local linkages, features six nodes, or locations, for tourism development. Each node becomes a hub for a particular niche market, such as eco-, cultural, and religious tourism, providing visitors with differing experiences. The government proactively promotes and encourages promotion and a combination of measures to encourage development in desired locations and limits tourism elsewhere.
Krabi Discovery is a community-led strategy emphasizing fine-grain development. Local-self governments in the more popular destinations treat the tourism market as a driver of community development, placing priority on the promotion of community-based economic development while taking readings from the tourist market, rather than trying to explicitly satisfy market demands. Chief stakeholders are local communities, which define the scope and scale of tourism development and participate actively in tourism planning and implementation, while the central and provincial governments facilitate the community empowerment through the provision of loans, infrastructure, marketing of tourism in the rest of the country and abroad, and coordinates the creation of pilot programs to experiment with different niches and activities.
To test the future likely performance of the strategies, the team created three external scenarios — Global Boom, Global Median and Global Downturn. Global Boom posits maximum economic growth, social cohesion and environmental stability, in which worldwide economies grow at above average rates and average incomes increase. Greater disposable incomes mean greater global demand for tourism, and Thailand captures an increasing share of both domestic and international tourist markets. Thailand improves in both social and political realms, with the Thai people achieving higher levels of education and training. Human factors bolster the overall strength of the nation and the region. Environmental factors, both natural and manmade, are stable and positive, water supply is sufficient, and there are no new environmental problems or risks.
The next scenario, Global Median, builds on current global and regional trends, with average economic performance, a steady sociopolitical state, and some environmental threats. Growth is moderate and capital is not as readily available as under the Boom scenario, but Thailand grabs an increasing share of that growth, though with less demand for specific types of niche tourism. Sociopolitical situations remain much the same, however, environmental factors present some problems at global and national levels, with water shortages, industrial pollution and continued global warming leading to moderately rising sea levels.
Global Downturn is the last scenario, a pessimistic projection of economic stagnation, social conflict, and environmental trauma. Under this scenario, external conditions follow the Global Boom trends until 2015, at which point economic, sociopolitical, and environmental threats are realized, severely affecting the tourism industry. A stagnant or declining global economy precipitates a decline in Asian economies, with negative effects on domestic and international tourism, as well as demand for niche tourist activities. Sociopolitical strife escalates, collaborative intervention from foreign powers increases tension and upsets traditional ways of life. The environment suffers, with severe droughts affecting some areas, while dramatically rising sea levels impact Thailand’s coastlines.
The results of the scenario analysis indicate that Krabi’s natural environment will come under significant pressure if the Krabi Riviera strategy is pursued and driven by the Global Boom scenario. Alternatively, the other strategies pose less risk to the environment regardless of which external environment occurs in the future. However, the results of the scenario analysis do not suggest that one strategy is best. Each strategy offers a distinct set of benefits and costs that need to be carefully considered as the community thinks about and plans its future tourism industry.
A Collaboration between the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute and the University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design
From 1998-2002 China experienced unprecedented growth, with an annual GDP increase of 7.8% – the fastest in the world. It is expected that over the next 20 to 30 years China will complete its transition from a planned to market economy, fully integrate itself into world trade, and become the world’s largest and most powerful economy .
Sustainability is a concern shared by most Western professionals who are consulting with the Chinese government, either directly or indirectly, to devise a development strategy that will support its vigorous growth. Statistics reveal that the U.S., now the world’s largest economy, uses 25% of the world’s natural resources. If China – with four times the U.S.’s population – develops similar consumption patterns, it will consume all of the world’s non-renewable resources when its economy reaches full fruition in 20-30 years.
Rising incomes in China are fueling a dramatic increase in automobile ownership: it is estimated that between 12,000 and 14,000 new cars are added to China’s streets each day, increasing traffic congestion and air pollution, and spawning the development of thousands of kilometers of new highways . Transit-oriented development, or TOD, is one element of a sustainable development strategy that can help to lessen the burden of growing cities on the world’s limited supply of non-renewable resources. TOD, supported by a detailed and integrative policy framework, promotes the efficient use of land and development of a compact urban form, while curbing automobile usage by creating incentives for transit, walking, bicycling and other non-motorized modes of transportation.
Tianjin: a snapshot
Metropolitan Tianjin is the third largest city in China, after Beijing and Shanghai. With a population of 10 million, Tianjin reports directly to the Chinese government and benefits from direct access to centralized sources of funding for large-scale development projects. The port at Tanggu (30 km southeast of Tianjin proper) fuels much of Tianjin’s economy. Tianjin’s major industries include clothing and textiles, chemicals and electronics.
Tianjin’s Central Station is one of northern China’s major railway hubs and serves as a junction point for the Beijing-Shanghai lines, while also providing direct access to other northeastern and southern provinces. After Beijing was chosen to host the 2008 Olympics, the City of Tianjin invested heavily in improvements to urban transport – most prominently a new light rail line connecting Tianjin proper with the port of Tanggu. The City is also expanding existing rail lines within Tianjin proper to support its growing population of residents and commuters.
Studio goals and approach
In the fall of 2004, UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design was asked by the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute to develop principles and prototypes for TOD in Tianjin. The studio was comprised of fifteen graduate students in architecture, landscape architecture and city and regional planning, and led by three instructors. The interdisciplinary nature of the studio sought to combine a wide range of skills to propose a plan for new TOD in Tianjin.
The Institute suggested four sites in Tianjin, from which the studio chose three, as platforms for their ideas. Each site is distinct in its geography, history and local character, but they shared two things in common: first, on each site there is at least on transit station serving the city’s expanding rail system; and second, each site has a direct connection to Tianjin’s network of rivers and canals.
The studio viewed the river as the conceptual “thread” running through the three proposals. Echoing an approach of “ecosystem as infrastructure” , the studio envisioned the river as the City’s main artery, with riverfront paths to feed pedestrians and bicyclists into the larger network of roads and railway transit. A plan for commercial, residential and public land uses would strategically fill in the areas between transit stations and the river, thereby helping the City to gain the most from its investment by directly linking people to the transit system.
The studio authored a broad set of principles to inform the planning and design process. Based on these principles — which are further distilled into a set of strategies and guidelines — we developed prototypes for three sites in Tianjin.
The “kit of parts” breaks this set of principles down into physical components and highlights the more specific elements of each plan. Tianjin Municipal Government can use this menu of options in developing future prototypes for development.
Principle 1 – High Density/Mixed Use
Create high density mixed-use neighborhoods to support transit. A successful transit-oriented development creates a wide range of destinations (offices, community centers, and recreation areas) within easy walking or biking distance of transit.
Principle 2 – Pedestrian/Bicyclist Network
Develop an independent pedestrian and bicycle network to support transit and access through neighborhoods. Directly connecting pedestrian and bicycle-only pathways to transit stations encourages the use of non-motorized transport. These car-free pathways also increase foot traffic visibility for local businesses.
Principle 3 – Transit Connections
Facilitate connections to transit with a fine-grained street grid. An urban street grid works best when it incorporates a clear hierarchy of street types. The grid allows for the dispersion of travel and access through neighborhoods, while the hierarchy provides different street environments to accommodate both faster and slower traffic.
Principle 4 – Public Realm
Create spaces for social interaction. Planning urban neighborhoods with an inviting public realm is key to creating vibrant communities. Streets, parks and open spaces should provide places for recreation and leisure. Buildings should be designed with outward-facing elements — such as balconies and porches — to enliven the streetscape.
Principle 5 – Self-sufficient Neighborhoods
Design “Zero Waste” self-sufficient neighborhoods. Generating much of their power needs on-site, self-sufficient neighborhoods create less demand on the centralized infrastructure for non-renewable resources. Block designs should include systems to generate energy, and to collect and reuse water and waste.
Principle 6 – Heterogeneous Communities
Promote diversity and choice within neighborhoods, encouraging the formation of heterogeneous communities. Neighborhoods should incorporate a range of housing types, services and amenities to allow residents of different income types and lifestyles to live in the same area.
Principle 7 – Existing Site Conditions
Respect the site’s history and natural features by incorporating existing elements into future site plans. One of the most recognizable features in Tianjin is the river network from which the city grew over time. Incorporating existing natural and historical features into new development is an important strategy for creating viable, sustainable communities that identify with the city’s past.
Conclusions and Recommendations
This project examined opportunities for TOD in three very different contexts. While all of the plans are based on the principles of TOD, they apply these principles differently to respond to the characteristics of each site.
We identified several obstacles to effective TOD in Tianjin during our planning and design process.
First, the current development process in China results in large-scale, master-developed projects with repetitive architecture on super-blocks. This development pattern does not support transit and is not consistent with TOD principles of mixed-use, public realm, diversity, and site history. The city should aim to better balance architectural diversity, solar access requirements and environmental sustainability goals.
Second, the city’s efforts to expand roads and build large thoroughfares are not consistent with the TOD principle of connectivity, which requires a dense network of streets. Some may believe that a dense street network causes traffic, but in fact, it provides many alternative routes to travelers, which spreads traffic out. Instead of expanding roads, Tianjin should create a dense network of narrower streets to support transit, bicycling, and walking.
Third, we noted many examples of automobile priority in new development. For example, many new buildings have a large parking lot in front of the building. This facilitates automobile use, but disadvantages pedestrians who have to walk through the parking lot to get to the entrance. It also creates a “dead space” along the street, which is unpleasant for pedestrians and bicyclists. Instead, buildings should be sited close to the street, with any parking in the rear. This encourages people to take transit and then walk or bicycle to the building rather than drive, which reduces traffic and creates a lively streetscape.
Finally, Tianjin has unique natural assets and a special history, but most new development does not reflect this. In order to create a positive image and identity for the city, new development should incorporate these assets, such as the river and canal system, agricultural history, and existing open space.
These are challenging issues, but they are critical to the success of TOD in Tianjin. If Tianjin is committed to TOD, they can be resolved. Our plans and principles provide guidance, and the city can use demonstration projects to test these development models.
We identified seven key steps to implementing TOD in Tianjin. Each is discussed below.
Adopting a clear set of TOD policies is critical. We have developed a proposed set of TOD principles, strategies and guidelines. The City of Tianjin could create a TOD district for all areas within 1 km of a transit station in which these policies would apply. The city could then create a specific plan for each TOD district that outlines a development vision based on these policies [1-4].
Implementing TOD requires the participation of multiple partners . In Tianjin, these may include city agencies, the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute, transit operators (subway, light rail, and bus), the private sector (developers, financial institutions, and other businesses), the central government, and Tianjin residents. Each of these partners can contribute to a distinct aspect of TOD. The city may lease or sell land, provide infrastructure, supply funding, and control the review of development proposals. The Urban Planning and Design Institute and transit operators may work with the city to develop TOD policies and specific plans. The private sector may develop and invest in TOD projects. The central government may provide funding or technical assistance. Finally, Tianjin residents may offer feedback on proposed plans and development proposals. To facilitate coordination, the city could create a TOD committee with representatives from each partner to review and approve development proposals in TOD districts.
Incorporation into Plans
To be truly effective, Tianjin should incorporate TOD concepts and principles into plans at multiple levels — regional, city, and site — as well as into plans of various kinds (i.e. land use, housing, and transit). For example, the city could include TOD principles in its updated General Plan as well as its Transit Plan and the Regional Strategic Plan. Tianjin could also develop a pedestrian plan and a bicycle plan[6,7]. These are critical components of TOD since most transit riders either walk or bicycle to the station.
Architectural diversity is a key element of TOD. A site with many different building types and styles serves a variety of uses and housing needs, which allows a mix of people to live, work, and shop in one area. This can be achieved by encouraging multiple developers to work on a site: a group of developers could work together on each phase of a project; a site could be separated into smaller pieces with different developers for each piece; or the city could limit the total number of units on a site designed or developed by one entity.
Development around stations can also be structured in several ways: a developer could acquire the air rights above an underground station while the city retains control of the ground, the city could lease or sell the land to a developer but keep certain areas for transit facilities, or the city and developer could share construction or operating costs.
In some cases, particularly in suburban or edge stations, it may be necessary to implement the specific plan in several phases. However, a full mix of uses (residential, office, commercial, public facilities, and open space) should be included in each phase if possible. This ensures that the neighborhood functions as a mixed-use community, rather than as isolated islands of housing or office development.
One phasing strategy is land banking. This means concentrating development and density in specific parcels and leaving other parcels undeveloped, or developing them at lower intensity interim uses that allow for higher intensities later. This allows high-density development to occur around the station over a longer time frame, which conserves land and reduces sprawl .
Plan review is important to ensure that proposed development complies with TOD principles and the specific plan. The City could issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) that asks developers to submit proposals for an element of the specific plan. The TOD committee could review these proposals for the quality of their urban and pedestrian design (including traffic and parking), environmental sustainability, and transit impact.
Housing development should serve a variety of incomes. One strategy for this is inclusionary zoning, which requires that a percentage of the units in each development (often 10-20%) are affordable to lower-income households. Another approach is to create a “housing protection district,” in which any affordable housing that is demolished has to be replaced in new buildings. The city could also provide a “density bonus” that allows 15-25% more units than normally allowed under the zoning if developers include a certain percentage of affordable housing units. These units should be scattered throughout the site, not concentrated in one area.
The City of Tianjin is making a significant investment in its rail network. TOD can help Tianjin realize of the benefits of this investment through “value capture” — mechanisms that return to the City some of the economic value generated by the transit system and the development pattern of TOD. For example, lease payments from developers to the city can be adjusted based on the increase in land value due to TOD, as reflected in regular appraisals. Alternatively, the city can require developers to return a percentage of their profits to the city with their lease payments each year.
This “captured value” should not go to the City’s general fund. It should further support TOD by subsidizing or enhancing transit, paying for landscaping and maintenance of parks and public facilities, or providing funding for affordable housing. Revenues could also go to a “TOD fund” for future TOD projects.
TOD and Tianjin’s Future
Tianjin currently faces many challenges: a booming population, rapid growth in vehicle ownership, and increasing congestion and pollution. At the same time, the city has great assets: a rich history, a river and canal network, strong neighborhoods, and a growing transit system.
By investing in transit, Tianjin is taking an important step towards a more sustainable future. TOD represents the next step. The principles, plans, and guidelines outlined in this report present an opportunity for Tianjin to not only create a future that is more economical, livable, and sustainable than the present, but also to become a leader in progressive planning and a model of responsible development for other cities in China.
At the same time, it is important to recognize that TOD is not a cure-all for the challenges that Tianjin faces. Other policies are also needed: in particular, pricing of vehicle ownership and use to reflect its full social and environmental costs, and policies to encourage resource conservation and the use of renewable energy sources. A holistic approach that addresses both the demand and supply of resources will be most effective at reducing congestion.
Harrison S. Fraker, FAIA, Dean, College of Environmental Design
David E. Dowall, Director, Institute for Urban and Regional Development and Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning
Tom Lollini, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Physical and Environmental Planning
Emily S. Johnson
2. Robert Cervero, Lecture (April 11, 2005), City and Regional Planning 219: Comparative International Transportation, University of California, Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning.
3. Martin C. Pedersen, “Eternal Optimist: Architect William McDonough has witnessed China’s rapid modernization and sees hope for sustainable development,” Metropolis, (http://www.metropolismag.com/cda/story.php?artid=1130), January 24, 2005.