a+awards architizer master plan

10 Ingredients for the Perfect Master Plan

The art of master planning is mastered by precious few designers, but when it’s done right, it can transform a city.

Nick Addamo Nick Addamo

Architizer is pleased to accept entries for the 2019 A+Awards in the Master Plan category! Submit your projects before the final entry deadline on March 29th.

At a time when worldwide populations are shifting to become primarily urban, city planning is more vital now than ever before. In order to accommodate the increasing number of urban-dwellers, the art of master planning has emerged as a vital tool for the industry, in both local municipalities and private firms. When a master plan is poorly designed, it can fragment communities and stifle economies, but when carried out with skill, it can transform the lives of millions. So how should it be done?

The following ingredients exemplify the bold ideas of planners and designers in their attempt to maximize quality of life, smart design, social equity, and accommodate for future growth with long-range, comprehensive plans.

Scale Lane Bridge by McDowell+Benedetti Architects, Hull, United Kingdom

1. Walkability

As car usage and ownership continues to decline and urban populations opt for alternative transportation modes, many cities are waking up to the notion of a walkable city being a desirable city. More feet on the street is leading to renewed focus on pedestrian amenities in master plans such as sidewalks, street furniture, crosswalks, pedestrian-exclusive bridges, and the overall “human scale” of cities at the ground level.

Erasmus University by jvantspijker, Rotterdam, Netherlands

2. Smart Higher Education Facilities

Whether suburban or urban, many university campuses serve as a city within themselves. As campuses grow and transform into the future, some are leading the charge with smart growth plans for academic buildings, student amenities, transportation, and dormitories to accommodate future generations of enrollment and academics. They can also provide a rich mix of amenities for the wider community, blending in libraries, science centers and early learning facilities.

© Snøhetta

© Snøhetta

Times Square by Snøhetta, New York

3. Pop-Up Open Spaces

All the rage during the recession, pop-up parks are exhibiting staying power, culminating in a verifiable placemaking typology. Whether it is a parklet replacing parking, a street-turned public plaza, or an open air greenmarket, many of these once-temporary installations are becoming permanent urban fixtures.

master plan

Dortheavej Residence by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group, Copenhagen, Denmark

4. Quality Affordable Housing

As urban populations rise, so do the prices of rental housing units. In an attempt to combat inequality and provide housing to all, affordable housing designers are getting creative to better serve the needs of low-income residents. Check out the most sustainable contemporary affordable housing projects here.

Boston Downtown Wayfinding by Design Communications Ltd., Boston

5. Clear Wayfinding

The strive for cities to brand themselves is evident even in such granular elements as street graphics. Well-designed wayfinding now plays a major role in master plans, serving as step-by-step guides to cultural, art, civic, and other urban institutions and points of interest.

Bike Bollards by Reliance Foundry Co. Ltd.

6. Cohesive Streetscapes

A streetscape is defined as the appearance and composition of public space at street level. Trees, bike racks, lampposts, signage, bus stops, sidewalk configurations, curb bump-outs — every element that a ground-level user will come into contact with needs careful consideration. The best streetscapes combine aspects of walkability, placemaking and wayfinding, creating a cohesive identity that maximizes a neighborhood’s visual attractiveness.

Bioswale via EPA.gov

7. Environmentally Conscious Design

In the wake of climate change and record-breaking weather events, sustainable urban planning is more than a trend — it’s fast becoming a requirement. Flood mitigation, water management, permeable pavements, bioswales and rooftop gardens are among the many innovative developments in sustainability efforts.

Infill Parkveien 5 by KIMA arkitektur AS, Olso, Norway

8. Clever Infill Projects

As the dominant car culture in many cities deteriorates, countless vacant lots remain surface parking spaces. Intended to accommodate for rush hour influxes of automobiles, these are often situated right in the downtown core. Rather than development occurring on the outskirts of town, many municipalities are focusing inwards, to add density and vibrancy to the existing downtown through the reuse of obsolete or underutilized buildings and lots, to stitch together once-severed urban fabrics.

master plan

Jharkhand Transit-oriented Development

9. Public Transit-Oriented Development

Transit-oriented development (TOD) is often a mixed-use area designed to maximize access to public transportation. Once again, the generational shift away from automobile usage is adding to this effort’s success. Cities are rapidly developing land in close proximity to rapid transit stations to capitalize on millennial attractiveness and renewed interests in public transportation. Further down the line, driverless buses and cars may transform our urban centers beyond recognition.

Boston Innovation District by Silverman Trykowski Associates

10. Innovation Districts

Silicon Valley is about to be a thing of the past. According to the Brookings Institution, “a new complementary urban model is now emerging, giving rise to what we and others are calling ‘innovation districts.’ These districts, by our definition, are geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators, and accelerators. They are physically compact, transit-accessible, and technically wired, offering mixed-use housing, office, and retail.”

Boston’s Innovation District is by far at the forefront of this movement, and is aiming to transform the South Boston waterfront, a predominantly vacant area, into a bustling hub that fosters innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship.

Now it’s down to you: Get your urban planning projects celebrated by a global audience by entering the 7th Annual A+Awards before the final entry deadline on March 29th.

© Amalgam Studio LLC

Silvernails // Amalgam Studio LLC

Silvernails, NY, United States

© Toshiyuki Yano

Asymmetric House // KIAS

Chiba, Japan