Benefits of Building Compact Campuses

This study shows the correlation between compact [urbanism] and savings potential for higher education institutions in Texas.

In this COVID era (August 2020), there is a challenge to reinforce the benefits of campus/communities/cities fabrics that encourage pedestrian-friendly open spaces. This article highlights the benefits of compact campuses; but also highlights a unique approach to proximity-based statistics + GIS analytics that could help in the design process for Master Plans.

Link to complete article (click here).


AISD Elementary Schools Sites – Can these be smartly repurposed?

Here is a quick study for 2 of the 4 sites of elementary schools in Austin, TX that will be closed. We see this as an opportunity to bring back to the community while addressing some of the most important issues for the City.

Click here to access the study. All content is proprietary.

This study brings once again the idea of Comprehensive and Interconnected Systems in the urban realm. The proposal touches on solutions for affordable housing, demographics, food access, walkability, and also alternate social interactions that support building strong communities.

AISD affordable housing


Do we have enough hospital beds in TX to effectively respond to #COVID-19?

This study shows an interesting trend for the last 5 years: a reduction in number of beds between 2015 and 2020. It is expected that most beds are located within highly-populated metro areas, so that is not the surprise. It is also interesting to see the amount of beds /1000 people and the reduction of this distribution in most counties of the state. While some counties had a gain (~0.1 to 0.6 beds – yellow in the image below) most of the state had a decrease as bad as -4 to -11 beds / 1000 people.

See complete analysis here…

15_20 reduction bpth.png

Austin – Land Development Code

This study tests what can be built (maximized) in various zoning districts within the City of Austin, in full compliance with the latest draft of the Land Development Code (Feb 2020).

One interesting finding is that some Zoning Districts with bonus entitlements could be visually more dense than the next level of zoning intensity without bonus entitlements.

Another interesting fact is that Commercial-zoned districts are difficult to maximize due to minimum parking requirements. A vehicle-oriented city will have a common pattern in commercial districts: lots of parking lots/ parking garages.

Overall, the latest draft of the LDC is simple to use/read and it reflects a better understanding of our current reality. This LDC won’t solve the affordability crisis, but is a step in the “right” direction (in my opinion).

Here a link to the study

Here a link to the presentation to City Council


Mapping the opportunity to increase pedestrian value – Downtown Austin

Updated 10.25.19 – 3D visualization slides added.

This is an analysis similar to Space Syntax in terms of identifying pedestrian value based on different variables. In this case, the variables are proximity to: commercial land use, rail stations, bus stops, trails, parks, buildings, crime hot-spots and Austin “seasonal events”.

When these are superimposed (overlaid), the result seems to clearly define the opportunity to increase the PEDESTRIAN VALUE of the east side of I-35. If a small section of I-35 was a “park on deck”, that value could be increased considerably.

High value of opportunity = Red

Low value of opportunity = Green

See the details of this analysis…


Affordability Unlocked – City of Austin

This development / urban design proposal tests the feasibility of the “Affordability Unlocked” Program (City of Austin) to address displacement and affordable housing provision in the City of Austin. The City of Austin Program provides development density increases and development fees waived.

The proposal was presented on July 24th, 2019 at the Urban Land Institute breakfast event and showcased its financial feasibility among other aspects. The proposal maximized density of 367 apartment units + 16 Townhomes (Detached “4-plexes”) aiming to address the concern for displacing multi-generational families that currently live in the area, while creating an attractive project for the neighborhood.

ULI gardner unlocked 02The bright minds behind the proposal brought each different lenses to look at the project. From the financials to the legal, design, construction and marketing points of view, the team successfully developed a fascinating proposal.

The winning proposal was presented by team members in the picture below. From left to right: Julio Carrillo (Senior Planner / Urban Designer), Justin Brodnax, Brittany Stanford, Mackenzie Herron, Joshua Hogan, Steven Minor, Spencer Roy, Jewels Cain, Bryce Bash, and Jose Martinez (not pictured).

See complete proposal here…

ULI gardner unlocked 01ULI gardner unlocked 03

Austin monitor has mentioned the proposal in this article.

AISD – a masterplan study with housing options

This is a quick snapshot of what was proposed in a competition for a few acres of land in Austin TX. The winning proposal pitched the idea of a “CASA TRIPLE” which emphasized mixed use / mixed income and multi-generational living arrangement options, which are surprisingly avoided in Austin:

  • A “triplex” architectural solution for housing: “CASA TRIPLE”
  • Truly vertical mix uses an entertainment options at the core of the neighborhood
  • Street connectivity options and flexibility

winning proposal casa triple.pngAISD land ATX.png

Continue reading

Value of street network design (Space syntax – UCL)

This presentation by Tim Stonor showcases techniques for capturing the economic performance and social value of places.

With tools like “SPACE SYNTAX” and its integration to GIS software, urban / city planning will be a much easier process. The economic principles and trends in our cities can be visually captured and analyzed here when looking into street network design.


Safe roads ATX – Where should we focus on?

2015 ended as the year with most deaths in Austin, TX. These “accidents” happened in clusters within the city. Do you want to know where these clusters are? If you click here, a map will show you most of these locations.

A map labeled “B” within a circle overlays deaths and sidewalks absent in the city. This is intended to highlight the relationship between most “Accidents” and pedestrian-friendly environments.


Navigating thru these maps, a few conclusions are drawn:

  1. Automobile-oriented environments see more deaths than pedestrian-friendly areas (I-35, airport blvd).
  2. We should create pedestrian-friendly environments where the City of Austin has identified high-priority absent sidewalks.
  3. We should retrofit car-oriented areas and convert them to pedestrian-friendly environments.
  4. We should prioritize areas where 311 calls are made.
  5. We should prioritize areas close to parks where lots of people attend to enjoy nature, festivals, to practice sports, etc.
  6. We should prioritize areas close to bus stops, to ensure all non-drivers commute safely.
  7. We should prioritize areas where deaths are happening!!.
  8. We should select and take action to retrofit areas by overlaying priorities.

The pre-conclusion showcased here gives a 35% weight of influence in the decision to map “B” (location of deaths), while giving less influence to other maps.

If we want to make our city safe, and if we want to achieve Vision Zero goals (no deaths), can this approach be improved somehow? What would you include / change?

*to clarify, each “scenario” (labeled “A” thru “E”) is defined below.


Click here for a full resolution graph and analysis.

The data used so far is overlaid on the City’s layer for absent sidewalks developed by the City of Austin.

A. Clusters of 311 call requests: These clusters are accounting for calls requesting new sidewalks or sidewalk repairs.

B. Proximity to accidents causing deaths: In theory, the more attention redesigning these areas, the more accidents and deaths we will avoid. In my opinion this data set has the highest % of influence for this approach.

C. Proximity to parks: In my opinion this is a must, but not with a super high % of influence, since parks are mostly pedestrian oriented already.

D. Proximity to bus stops: Outside of 300 ft (a block size), the farther away, the less priority (% of influence) should have this data set.

E. Bus stop location: Within 300ft (a block size); in my opinion the % of influence of this should be higher than D, but not higher than B.