Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sacramento Urban Design Plan Update

On December 11th the City of Sacramento Development Services held an urban design workshop talking about future development for downtown. There was talk of maximum building heights, building height zones, separation between towers, and transfer development rights. I did not get the chance to go, but from what I have read and heard from others, the workshop was very positive. Here some slides that were featured at the work shop.


wburg said...

That was an interesting some ways I was dismayed, especially the map that showed just about every historic structure in the downtown business district labeled as an "opportunity site" (aka "let's tear this down." The height-transfer idea (a business owner can sell the airspace above a structure to another developer to add to height elsewhere) seems like a good way to preserve historic structures and provide a way to put taller buildings on top of lots which don't need preserving (like parking lots.) The main issue will be enforcing those rules later on: the city has been known to ignore past rules when they became inconvenient, or allow exceptions "just this once" that become the rule. If the height-transfer rule does get good enforcement, it could become a terrific bridge between the interests of preservationists and developers--and there's a big gap to bridge!

I spent Christmas weekend in San Francisco and was definitely struck by the amount of historic architecture that is still standing and how closely it integrates with new buildings. There's nothing at all wrong, in my mind, with having a century-old two-story brick building next to a 40-story steel/glass skyscraper, as long as the two-story building is busy with the sort of business that doesn't do well in a giant tower (read your Jane Jacobs for some words on this.) Sacramento already destroyed a lot of our older neighborhoods which featured the kind of mixed-use and adaptive reuse projects one sees in San Francisco, which only highlights the need for preservation of the ones we have left. We're a historic city, but if the evidence of that history is plowed under we lose it irrevocably.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the ghastly skyline and ugly building of Sacramento?

Without the trees and historic buildings Sacramento is nothing...

Zwahlen Images said...

Oh, it's anonymous again. Your input is enlightening as always.

I don't understand the height transfer plan... especially in the district where there is no height limit to begin with.

Anonymous said...

I couldnt help but notice a lack of representation for the West End offices for the state near O st .

I was under the impression that they (DGS) were going to ask the state legislature for more money .

Am i mistaken ?

Anonymous said...

woah woah woah. Zwahlen, there are a number of anonymous people here. I've posted at other times, and I'm not that guy above. There might be eight or nine of us in all. I'm just too lazy and tentative to get a user name.

Anyhoo, the point above is taken about the historic structures. San Francisco, like other great cities, boasts a mix of new and old. Older structures give a city weight, history, and character. There is a great deal of ethos with the current vogue of buildings (e.g., deconstructionist modern glass boxes, homes made of stucco) and we build a LOT of them. But if the entire city is composed of this, when the style goes out, we're left with a passe area and we might wonder why we tore everything down for it (see: Alhambra Theater). Note that in midtown there are streets lined with beautiful Victorians, but marred by a single (astoundingly ugly) apartment box from 1960.