Block design is an important, collaborative effort between the master plan of the neighborhood and the architectural design. This level of design links the
macro-concepts with the micro-engineering needed to implement great urbanism. The design process should be a seamless collaboration between planner, architect, and engineer to ensure that the greatest spatial and experiential needs of a project are upheld by all parties involved.
Determine the transect and design accordingly.
Understand regional building traditions and climatic responses and incorporate when possible.
Incorporate local building materials such as timber, stone, brick, etc, when available.
Understand product mix and incorporate maximum diversity and flexibility into the buildings to promote sustainability over time.
Assess the natural amenities of the site and incorporate when possible.
Determine best building for site and develop using local materials,building traditions, and climatic responses. (i.e. – tall windows, deep eaves, porches, etc)
Provide for flexibility in work spaces and allow for agriculture/craft spaces to be incorporated into the site.
Civic Spaces: The planning and incorporation of great civic and public spaces is essential to the success of the overall block and neighborhood design. A thorough investigation of public spaces should take place to understand the best locations for these places and how to best integrate them into the street and pedestrian passage network of connectivity.
Beautiful Streets: A great deal of thought should be given to the placement and spatial qualities of each street. There are specific constraints which help shape the road and passage network of connectivity at the block and neighborhood level. Collaboration should occur when dealing with challenging topography or soil conditions to best understand which designs are best for which conditions. Also care should be given with street alignment to allow for the architecture to play a meaningful role in the community as well. Building placement is important at this level because it allows for a number of unique design moves to take place concurrently thus creating the best spatial qualities of a place possible. Achieving a balance in design between all the different parts is the challenge, and when designed in a collaborative manner, truly great places emerge.
Meaningful Architecture: The architecture should be a meaningful response to the urban conditions of the area and should tie in beautifully to the character of the region it’s located in. The sequence of spaces formed by the building placement is what makes the public and private realm at the block and street level work together in harmony. The collaboration between the planner and the architect at this level is crucial because it allows conditions like the one illustrated above to be executed in intentional manner. The challenge is to understand the potential of these conditions before it goes to the engineer so that it and similar design moves can be executed seamlessly. An understanding of intent is important for the engineer to understand which will ultimately result in the creation of a beautiful places.