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Planning Tools and Techniques for Urban Heritage. Jeffrey Soule, FAICP American Planning Association. What is Urban Fabric and why do we care?. Challenges of Urbanization Cultural Identity vs. globalization Scarce resources Impact on quality of life Civic view vs. Ego

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planning tools and techniques for urban heritage

Planning Tools and Techniques for Urban Heritage

Jeffrey Soule, FAICP

American Planning Association


What is Urban Fabric and why do we care?

  • Challenges of Urbanization
  • Cultural Identity vs. globalization
  • Scarce resources
  • Impact on quality of life
  • Civic view vs. Ego
  • A philosophy as much as technique
ideological battle
Ideological Battle
  • Many architects promote a “no context” design philosophy
  • Koolhaas “Tabla Rasa”
  • Much of the world views planning as architecture
  • World heritage is a humanistic approach
goals for urban planning
Goals for Urban Planning:
  • improve quality of life for the most people.
  • Fairly distribute positive and negative aspects of development.
  • Cultural and historic preservation
  • Provide a predictable process for decision making informed by community goals. 
  • Environmental conservation
  • Involve a variety of people
planning in america
Planning in America
  • Comprehensive
  • Citizen participation
  • Many approaches
  • Long term perspective
  • Enforcement of Plans
  • Bottom up process
  • Planners represent public

Zoning: Legal Authority and Background 1920s

  • The Standard State Zoning Enabling Act
  • The Standard City Planning Enabling Act
  • State enabling legislation
  • Prevent law suits due to urbanization
  • Planning act an afterthought

Purpose of regulations

  • Provide a process to manage growth
  • Predictability over time
  • Fairness
  • Carry out the vision and general plan
  • Provide for appeals
  • Shared power
  • Encourage continuity

Zoning is only a piece of the process

  • Incentives like finance
  • Advice, education and discussion
  • Subdivision
  • Design Guidelines
  • Historic Preservation Districts/Overlays
  • Environmental standards
  • Energy standards
city design process
City Design Process
  • Reading the city
  • Reflect cultural layers
  • Human perspective
  • Citizen participation
  • Urban design is between city plan and architecture
  • Manage at different levels
elements of reading places
Elements of Reading Places
  • Customs
  • History
  • Climate
  • Visual elements
  • Scale
  • Architecture
  • Landscape
importance of a strong management framework
Importance of a strong management framework
  • Establish the infrastructure to direct development
  • Create neighborhoods with distinct character
  • Establish Design guidelines based on district characteristics
design guidelines
Design Guidelines
  • Strengthen the city’s character
  • Helps implement the civic vision and plan
  • Encourage new development that adds value to the city
  • Establishes a process and criteria for review
  • Essential for success

Design Guidelines preserve the city fabric

design guidelines elements for success
Design GuidelinesElements for Success
  • Clarity of purpose
  • Legal integrity
  • Link to City Plan
  • Third-party review
  • Weather criticism from architects
  • Celebrate results with the public
  • Specific design elements well defined
  • Mandeville Louisiana case study
heritage area movement
Heritage area movement
  • Natural, historic, and cultural resources
  • Managed as an assemblage through public and private partnerships;
  • Reflects traditions, customs, beliefs, and folklife that contribute to

the story;

  • Provide outstanding opportunities to conserve natural, cultural, historic, and /or scenic features;
  • Provide recreational and educational opportunities.


  • Establish form characteristics
  • Locate Key new development in cleared industrial area
  • Tie into overall tourism strategy
New Town Design

Based on historic urban landscape

Incorporates modern design within a local framework

Responds to both human and environmental needs

other tools
Other tools
  • Historic Preservation Tax Credits
  • National Register of Historic Places
  • Historic Overlay districts
20 rehabilitation tax credit
20% rehabilitation tax credit
  • The building must be used in a trade or business or held for the production of income.
  • The rehabilitation must be substantial.
  • The property must be placed in service
  • The building must be a certified historic structure when placed in service
  • Qualified rehabilitation expenditures include costs of the work on the historic building, as well as architectural and engineering fees, site survey fees, legal expenses, development fees, and other construction-related costs
criteria for adverse impact under the national register
Criteria for “Adverse Impact”Under the National Register
  • Physical destruction, damage
  • Alteration not consistent with the Secretary’s guidelines;
  • Removal of the property from its historic location;
  • Change of the character of the property’s use or of physical features within the property's setting that contribute to its historic significance;
  • Introduction of visual, atmospheric or audible elements that diminish the integrity of the property's historic features;
  • Neglect of a property which causes its deterioration.
Incorporate but manage iconoclastic ideologies

Establish a community-based plan

Develop multiple strategies based on community defined cultural values

Link to economic development

Create a development framework

Implement design guidelines

Provide incentives for residents and businesses

Examine the lessons from heritage areas

Fix weak language in the HUL guidelines