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Subdivision Design. Converting Raw Land into Saleable Lots and Desirable Communities. Today’s Agenda. What is a subdivision? Regulatory requirements Qualitative standards Subdivision layout process Design concepts Case study example. What is a subdivision?.

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Subdivision design l.jpg

Subdivision Design

Converting Raw Land into Saleable Lots and Desirable Communities


Today s agenda l.jpg
Today’s Agenda

  • What is a subdivision?

    • Regulatory requirements

    • Qualitative standards

  • Subdivision layout process

  • Design concepts

  • Case study example


What is a subdivision l.jpg
What is a subdivision?

  • Conversion of a land parcel from its natural or previous state to:

  • Legal entity, where lot ownership can be transferred

  • Profit venture, where development costs can be recouped through lot sales

  • Urban place, where neighborhood roots can be developed


Each lot must have l.jpg
Each Lot Must Have:

  • Minimum size (sq. ft.)

  • Minimum road frontage

  • Provision for utilities

    • Water/sewer or well/septic

    • Electricity, phone, gas, cable, etc.

  • Buildable area/feasible structure location

    • Meeting setbacks, buffers

    • Respecting constraints (slopes, soils, wetlands)


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Subdivision Approval Process

  • Sketch plan review

    • Feedback on type (major/minor), regulatory fit

  • Preliminary plat review

    • Checks on roads, utilities, lots, etc.

  • Final plat submission

    • Install improvements or post bond

    • Recorded in land and tax records





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What is a Good Subdivision

  • Creates desirable social patterns

  • Respects natural environment

  • Provides efficient utility services

  • Ensures accessibility (car, bike, pedestrian)

  • Builds safe roads

  • Minimizes cut and fill

  • Seeks pleasant aesthetics


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Elements of Success: 3 Scales

  • Housing cluster or block

    • Access, parking, yards

  • Neighborhood

    • Road systems

    • Open space network

  • Community

    • Connectivity

    • Activity centers


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Building a Sense of Place

  • Theme or big idea (e.g., walkable neighborhood)

  • Amenity location (e.g., central park, pool)

  • Unique landscape (e.g., native plants, oaks)

  • Architectural style (e.g., neotraditional)

  • Site graphics (e.g., entry sign, st. signs)



Subdivision layout process l.jpg

Regulations (density, lot size, open space, utilities, etc.)

Average/minimum lot sizes

Site analysis

Road access

Internal roads (topo, block layouts)

Lot layout (rectangles, short side to st., build. area, n/s orientation, no double frontage)

Open space, amenities

Paths, sidewalks

Utilities/storm water

Vegetation & slopes

Refine alternatives

Subdivision Layout Process


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Open Space Subdiv. Design-1

  • Identify open space areas

    • Primary conservation: wetlands, floodplains, steep slopes

    • Secondary conservation: sensitive, scenic, unique uplands

  • Locate house sites

    • Maximum view lots, abut open space, min. lot width






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Open Space Subdiv. Design-2

  • Design road & trail alignments

    • Level or rolling areas

    • Avoid wetlands, habitats

    • Minimize road length, cost, dead ends, long straight streets

  • Draw in lot lines

    • Use off center, up front houses for larger side & back yards




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Subdivision Street Concepts

  • Curvilinear: naturalistic, organic

    • Source: Frederick Law Olmsted

    • Auto oriented street standards

    • Examples: Treyburn, Gov. Club, The Oaks

  • Neo-traditional: geometric, grids, diagonals

    • Source: Andres Duany, Peter Calthorpe

    • Pedestrian/transit/auto networks

    • Examples: Seaside, Washington, South. Village


Subdivision street concepts 2 l.jpg
Subdivision Street Concepts-2

  • Urban cluster: geometric, central courts

    • Source: Clarence Stein, Henry Wright

    • Separation of auto service lanes & pedestrian paths and open spaces

    • Example: Radburn, N.J.



Basic housing layout concepts l.jpg
Basic Housing Layout Concepts

  • Single family detached &/or attached

    • Block: face street, w/ alleys (5-10 du/ac)

    • Cluster: face st. or green, w/ alleys (4-6 du/ac)

    • Parking court: face court (10-12 du/ac)

    • Eyebrow: face island (3.5-6 du/ac)

  • Multi-family

    • Quadrangle: face court & parking (14-16 du ac)

    • Parking court: face parking (15-18 du/ac)








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Case study example

  • Difficult hilly site

  • 1st layout disregarded drainage ways, slopes

  • 2nd layout left drainage ways open, followed natural contours with road





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