Turn Your Community Outward

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Enormous fences, hedges, man-made earthen berms and the unadorned backs of new homes form the dull view along arterial roadways in much of suburbia today.

September 01, 2002

 

Vertical elevation and dense strips of landscaping allow the use of front-facing homes along Zuni Boulevard at the James Co. development McKay Landing in Broomfield, Colo. The communitywide sales rate is 11 per month.

Enormous fences, hedges, man-made earthen berms and the unadorned backs of new homes form the dull view along arterial roadways in much of suburbia today.

The purpose is understandable: Few people want to live in a house adjacent to a busy road without being buffered from traffic.

Now some architects and land planners are concluding that all the effort to block out traffic was often overkill.

In his land plan for McKay Landing in Broom-field, Colo., Tom Kopf of Downing, Thorpe & James created an attractive, calming buffer be-tween rear-loaded patio homes and a busy roadway without all the banal fencing and without turning the homes away from the street.

“We chose to say let’s celebrate that view of the (off-site) lake and turn those homes around,” says Kopf. “And because facing an arterial street is not always the greatest marketing success, we did a lot to mitigate that.”

First, they elevated those homes. Second, they added extensive landscaping to the boulevard. And third, they “pulled off little parking bays” with the creation of another major landscaped island.

“So when you are sitting on your front porch, you really don’t perceive it to be an arterial street,” Kopf explains. “Instead, the view is primarily to the lake, and you see so much green between the travel lanes that it does not appear to be a major street at all.”

Bottom line: The builder, the James Co., did not have to lower the prices of homes along the roadway, “and there are a few lots where there definitely is a premium,” Kopf says.

“It definitely took a negative of an arterial street and made it a positive.”

People driving by have a nice view, too.

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