If you are interested in small to mid-size developments in New Orleans or other historic core neighborhoods, this blog series includes valuable lessons of the past, present and future development challenges and opportunities!Read More
Many older historic cities have a rich tradition of building-sidewalk interaction, but maybe none so famous as New Orleans.
This iconic scene from the French Quarter shows what happens when our built environment and our public walkways interact and intersect with each other; you get one of the most memorable (and profitable) neighborhoods of any American city. This used to be commonplace all over the country prior to the advent of more regulated city development and zoning laws. It is still possible to create new structures that engage with the 'public way'; planning entities and advocates in fact encourage this as a strong strategy for making safe, useful and profitable urban environments.
Many people see the photo above and remark on how beautiful the balconies are, but that's not quite right - it would be more accurate from a planning standpoint to say the French Quarter is known for its beautiful galleries. Balconies, galleries and stoops are all ways buildings historically transitioned into the public way.
To do this today with a new building is possible, but times have changed - you'll now be required to effectively rent that space from the city, and work with the city to ensure that you're not creating any problems by hanging out over their expensive infrastructure.
When you think balconies, think Romeo calling to Juliet. These structures cantilever out from the face of the building over the sidewalk which is owned by the local government. This practice was previously accepted in New Orleans as the Way Things Are, but times have changed and cities are strapped for cash. Old overhangs are generally grandfathered from any taxation, but if you want to add a new one hanging out over the sidewalk, you will need a servitude granted to you from the city. This gives you the right to own and maintain the 'encroachment' as they call it, in exchange for an annual payment. In New Orleans, this amount is determined by the city based on real estate prices in the area.
Galleries interact with more than just the air, they drop columns into the public path, and into zones that are often needed for public utilities, and where construction equipment must periodically access those utilities. They are taxed the same way as balconies, but they require more extensive review with public agencies and utilities. Generally, New Orleans wants any columns or footings dropped into the sidewalk to hold 18" clear from the face of a curb. The public utilities will look at what they have underground in the area, and will typically ask for 3' of clearance to either side of buried lines in order to work on them should they need replacement. They will also check the height of your encroachment to make sure they can get any equipment they may need underneath it; 10' clear is a safe bet unless you are covering some very serious infrastructure. Private utilites, such as electrical or cable providers, will need to make sure there are no cables that will need to be moved to avoid a safety issue for people standing on the encroachment.
Being a former New Yorker, I have a love for stoops - they are the front porches of Manhattan and Brooklyn. With less sun protection needed, they create a great social scene for a block that we see paralleled here in New Orleans with porches, the difference being porches can be set up as a more private space, whereas stoops are just out there often right in the public sidewalk, forcing interactions - such as the interaction of waking up the guy in the suit who passed out on your stoop so that you can get out the door to work in the morning. That's a little more acceptable than passing out on someone's porch - that would more likely warrant a 911 call than a helpful nudge.
No doubt, Chip & Joanna Gaines are creating what I am calling the Fixer-Upper Effect on home design in America. We love them and we love their family-lovin' farmhouse style. Today, I am going to share some of my architectural and interior sources to get this style for yourself.
Joanna uses a classic palette of black and white to create a serene, cozy interior space. She then uses natural or reclaimed wood, antique furniture and decor pieces, and industrial-inspired hardware and light fixtures to give her spaces a unique eclectic vibe. She uses round mirrors and pendants to breakup continuous horizontal lines created by the wood paneling. Joanna also takes advantages of spatial challenges and she makes them her own, from under stair niches to kitchenettes in dormer windows. She knows how to make the most of the home!
For her black and white cement tile, check out Cle' Tile, Veranda Tile or Sabine Hill. The black shaker chair is a classic and can be found almost anywhere. Have an old piece of furniture you hate, chalk paint it white or black and add a antique glaze over it. Use black and white classic clocks, wire baskets, and natural wood architectural elements for wall decor.
For lighting the space with the Gaines-Effect fixtures, look at Rejuvenation, Schoolhouse Electric, and France & Sons. Speaking of France & Sons, which is one of my favorite furniture websites, you can find a line of rugs by Magnolia Market supplier Loloi. For paint colors: try using Sherman Williams Repose Gray or Mindful Gray for the neutral wall color and Alabaster White for trim work.
Ben is always learning new languages. Who is Ben? He is a Revit Master and my husband! When we decided to take a trip to Italy, he practiced Italian for a few weeks, picked it up quickly and tried it out every chance he could get. “Dove posso trovare la pizza?” He wasn’t 100% fluent but his point was made and he trusted himself and the process. I, on the other hand, do not pick up languages. I do not retain words that have no meaning or have not been applied to my real life situations since birth. I do not trust myself enough make a fool of myself attempting to order coffee or asking for the bathroom. It’s terrifying to think about learning and conveying my intentions around the natives from fear of being laughed at. The same can be said for the architectural drafting language of Revit because let’s be honest, I speak AutoCAD and so does everyone else!
I have been in Ben's Revit Academy for 3 weeks now working on small residential projects. It’s my job to indicate the first timer’s frustrations so that Ben can better explain the nuances of BIM to others and so I made a list for him:
- Dimensioning is hard
- I just want to do a diagrammatic layout to see how something looks in plan!!
- Why can’t I draw how long a wall should be like in AutoCad?
- Why does TAB selection tool make me feel inadequate?
- Not all architects know the difference between a “ribbon” and a “properties box”!
- Does everything have to have a behavior? Why can’t I just draw to illustrate my design intent?
These were my frustrations. Your take away from this blog post is that like languages, I encourage you to practice, practice, practice! Even if it's for an hour or two a day. Moving objects may feel weird at first, but in time, it begins to feel more natural. Practice with purpose! Set small goals like drafting your house or just a room, then take it from existing conditions to design through construction documents.
I have since graduated from Revit Kindergarten and I am doing much better with the basics as I move into the next phase of my training. I may not be asking where the bathroom is in Italian, but I can import toilets like a pro!