I built a play table for my two daughters a few years ago with some shelves and a play rug from IKEA. Over time my girls began constructing a Lego city on top of the mat, so to make the surface a little more “Lego Friendly” I had a large piece of plexi-glass cut, and one afternoon I took their Lego off and put the plexi-glass on top. Then, I started to rebuild their city for them….using the rug as a guide, as my “Master Plan.”
My kids were devastated…I had ruined their city…I had ruined their life…
Where did I go wrong? I mean I know how to build a city, right?
A Poor Plan
The plan was flawed. I reconstructed their city following the IKEA mat religiously, without questioning its design. That was where I went wrong. I now recognize the design is terrible and my daughters had every right to be upset, here is why:
- This road goes out into the water for absolutely no reason. How did the environmentalist and fiscal conservatives even allow this to get into the plan?
- I like the crosswalk to the beach, but maybe it should be on the east side of that busy arterial street…you know, to where the larger beach area is…where you’ve shown the umbrellas?
- The traffic circle serves absolutely no purpose. It should be moved a little more to the west to align with the intersection. And while you’re at it, take another look at the road striping…something just isn’t right.
- I like the urban agriculture here, but I think you could have taken it further. Based on how strong the wind is blowing, as evidenced by the flags throughout, maybe some turbines? While you’re at it, how about some solar panels in the desert, and tapping into that molten lava for some geo-thermal heat.
- A tunnel through a mountain, next to a volcano that is spewing ash? What for? Economic development? It’s literally going through a desert. Delete.
- I know it’s nice to have some local commercial throughout the city, but a store in this location is just unrealistic.
- A lot of cities have brought their stadiums into their downtowns to spark revitalization and activity. The stadium here makes absolutely no sense. Was the impact of the city’s only neighborhood even considered? While it reminds me of Orchard Park (Go Bills!), I think it’s a bad idea. Relocate.
- This is a prime opportunity site in the middle of the city and we are leaving it empty? Don’t tell me its “too rocky” – you’ve already demonstrated that money is no object. Why don’t we level this site and put something special here? A town square or central park?
- Not sure what this is – a permanent circus? A bazaar? A gypsy town? This recommendation needs a little more info.
- Some large lot zoning might be okay here, you know, to preserve some of the cities natural resources, but is this just promoting sprawl? Must be nice to be king…private road, private lake, private forest…I think this is a lot of infrastructure for one house. Redesign with more density…with clustering
My girls as it turns out, wanted a “Main Street”, not some sprawling spaghetti bowl asphalt mess. So they ignored the plan and built the city they wanted over top. And good for them. Stay tuned, I’ll be following up with my review of their city.
Planning is often considered a discipline of disciplines. Any professional planner has had that struggle when someone asks “So what do you do?” To say you “plan cities” just doesn’t seem enough, yet how do you begin to explain land use, comprehensive planning, design regulations, or NIMBYs? Do you talk about working for a city and convincing elected officials of the necessary planning actions, lest they think you’re a politician? Do you mention capital improvement plans and public works budgeting, lest they think you’re an accountant? As planners, we face this struggle because the profession is so vast. Planning a city involves handling all the elements that make up a physical location, including a broad range of professions and disciplines.
With planning so extensive; however, the sources for new ideas, new concepts, and new ways of thinking about the city or the profession are endless. The professions with nothing to say about urban & regional planning are few and far between, while the possibilities for new inspiration in planning efforts seem endless.
In this series of blogs, we will explore the unusual, unexpected, and underutilized connections between planning and various professions and hobbies. Considering how bizarre connections can be made to interesting topics can help planners identify new ways of thinking about the city and create new ideas to tackle planning issues in the future. More importantly though, planning should be fun. Through this blog, we will explore some of the fun, interesting applications of planning to the world around us.
The City of Coralville Community Plan wins the Iowa APA Daniel Burnham Award for Comprehensive Planning. The award recognizes comprehensive plans that advance the science and art of planning, with focus on originality, innovation, citizen engagement, effectiveness, implementation, and progressing the role of planners. The award was presented to the City of Coralville and Houseal Lavigne Associates on October 23, 2014.
Using innovative outreach strategies and highly illustrative design, the Coralville Community Plan provides guidance for a growing community driven by an expanding technical, medical, and research-based community. The plan sets forth long-range recommendations for the maintenance and enhancement of existing neighborhoods and commercial areas, and advances strategies for the sustainable development and economic growth of the community.
The planning and public engagement process fostered stewardship for the plan by underscoring that participants’ voices had been heard and that their ideas had influenced the final decisions and plan recommendations. The result is a plan that directs local policy and day-to-day decision-making in an easy-to-use and understandable format to ensure Coralville can achieve its long-term goals and realize its desired potential.