Score your community!
Design principles for great places
After conducting a Built Environment Rating, the participants in our Images of the Western Reserve workshop discussed why they liked some places better than others. Then they derived 47 basic principles to describe the features of the places they preferred. We took the 47 principles and created this score sheet. The scores reflect our judgment of the relative importance of each principle. This is a preliminary attempt at developing a simple tool that citizens can use to evaluate proposed developments (and existing places) in their communities.
This score sheet can be used to evaluate neighborhoods in almost all types of development, from downtowns to villages, from pre-war suburbs to post-war exurbs. Just use the applicable principles for the selected neighborhood (either real or planned), then total all points to find out how well designed that neighborhood is:
-500 to 0 pointsFailing Neighborhood
1. Walkable Neighborhoods. Within a 3,000-foot radius of the center of the neighborhood or town, are there a mixture of uses (residential, commercial, retail, civic, recreational)?
Do the street proportions (ratio of building height to street width) conform to the following standards?
2. Mixed Uses. Have buildings that support a mix of uses (e.g. apartments above shops) been included in the neighborhood?
3. Town Center. Is there a town center, which includes offices, retail, residential, and/or mixed-use buildings?
4. Compact Development. Does the town center have the greatest concentration of development (density and intensity), located at the center using at least two-story buildings, with a lower concentration of development at the periphery? And, where possible, are vacant lots infilled first before building on virgin land?
5. Connected Streets. Does the interior street system create an interconnected network where each street connects to at least two other streets and where blocks do not exceed 1000 feet?
6. Rural Roads. Have rural roads been kept free of commercial development, residential subdivisions, sidewalks, power lines, and street trees?
7. Efficient Avenues. Are heavy traffic streets designed as avenues with 2 or 3 lanes in each direction, limited curb cuts, planting strips at both edges, street trees, underground utilities, and continuous sidewalks on both sides?
8. Shady Boulevards. Are medium traffic streets designed as boulevards with 1 or 2 lanes in each direction, a central landscaped median (minimum width 10 feet) with integral turning lanes, limited curb cuts, planting strips at both edges, street trees, underground utilities, and continuous sidewalks on both sides?
9. Main Streets. Are central commercial streets designed as Main Streets with 1 travel lane in each direction, on-street parking (angled or parallel), large parking lots behind the buildings, street trees, underground utilities, continuous sidewalks on both sides (10 feet minimum width), and two story buildings brought to the edge of the sidewalk on one or both sides? Are Main Streets no wider than 36 feet with parking on both sides?
10. Quiet Residential Lanes. Are residential streets designed with 1 travel lane in each direction, on-street parallel parking on one or both sides, 6-foot planting strips at both edges, street trees, underground utilities, and at least 5 feet wide sidewalks on both sides? Are the Quiet Residential Lanes no wider than 28 feet with parallel parking on one side, or 34 feet with parallel parking on both sides?
11. Convenient Alleys. Are alleys used to access garages in areas that accommodate bungalows, townhomes, and apartments? Are the alleys no wider than 18 feet (preferably 12 feet)?
12. Hidden Parking. Where is the majority of off-street parking for retail, commercial and civic uses located?
13. On-Street Parking. Is on-street parking allowed for on all residential streets and on all Main Streets?
14. Planting Strips. Are planting strips (minimum 6 feet wide) located between the curb and sidewalk on all Quiet Residential Lanes, Shady Boulevards, and Efficient Avenues?
15. Appealing Sidewalks. Is pedestrian circulation encouraged through the provision of sidewalks connecting uses with one another? And are these sidewalks at least 5 feet wide in residential areas and 10 feet wide in commercial areas?
16. Safe Crosswalks. Are crosswalks made safer by &
18. Public Transit. Is a well-appointed bus or transit stop with shelter and good signage provided?
19. Prominent Government Buildings. Are Town Halls, Post Offices, Libraries, and Courthouses &
20. Community Churches. Are churches &
21. Neighborhood Schools. Are schools &
22. Town Squares. Do communities have a common green, square, or central open space near the Town Center?
23. Gazebos. Do the Town Squares have attractive gazebos?
24. Public Seats. Do communities have public seats and benches in the following locations?
25. Shopping Streets. Are retail establishments designed to fit within a shopping street that is configured like a Main Street, and do these shopping streets have mixed-use buildings with offices or apartments above shops?
26. Neighborhood Offices. Are offices designed as part of a Main Street?
27. Entertainment Centers. Are entertainment centers with theaters, bars, and restaurants designed as part of a Main Street?
28. Local Industry. Are non-hazardous industries (e.g. automotive shops, wood shops, metal shops, etc.) that employ fewer than 50 people located in facilities within walking distance (3000 feet) of residential and commercial areas?
29. Corner Buildings. Are prominent corners designed with buildings adjacent to the sidewalk (Sidewalk Buildings), Welcoming Entries, and Hidden Parking?
30. Sidewalk Cafés. Are sidewalk cafés with outdoor seating, low walls or fences, and some overhead protection provided in Entertainment Centers and as part of a Main Street?
31. Stately Homes. Are the largest homes in the community &
32. Bungalows. Are the majority of single family, detached homes in the community &
33. Town Homes. Are attached homes in the community &
34. Village Apartments. Are two- to three-story apartments in the community &
35. City Apartments. Are four- to seven-story apartments in the community &
36. Welcoming Entries. Are entries to all buildings visible and accessible from the street?
37. Human Scale. Are buildings designed to be at the human scale using the following attributes?
38. Storefront Windows. Are ground level retail functions designed with traditional storefront windows that run the length of the façade?
39. Vertical Windows. Are windows in buildings vertically oriented (as opposed to unbroken bands of horizontal windows)?
40. Textured Architecture. Are buildings designed to give texture and depth to the façade?
41. Hidden Garages. Are garages in residential neighborhoods&
42. Sidewalk Buildings. Are all buildings oriented parallel to the sidewalk and, in commercial areas, brought directly to the edge of the sidewalk?
43. Porches and Balconies. Do residential buildings have either porches or balconies that are at least 6 feet deep?
44. Visible Roofs. Are all residential buildings, except village and city apartments, built with visible roofs with at least a 6:12 slope?
45. Protected Natural Areas. Are natural areas like wetlands, prime agricultural land, viewsheds, and watersheds preserved?
47. Preserved Rural Character. Are prime farmlands, rural roads, and historic farm structures preserved?