I am thankful and honored to announce that three Townhouse Center programs to help build better urban neighborhoods have been fully funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation:
- South Florida’s Best Block, a photo and video competition to generate community discussion about what makes a good block,
- Hi-Res Miami, a small building prototype whose plans will be downloadable for free to reduce the cost of urban development, and
- An architecture course to teach the next generation how to design small urban buildings.
Townhouse Center helps build better urban neighborhoods by promoting their fundamental building block: small, adaptable buildings, like in Boston’s North End or New York’s West Village. According to Knight Foundation Miami program director Matt Haggman, “Knight Foundation supports informed and engaged communities, a mission that is helped by how a community is built. Townhouse Center focuses on the building characteristics that make neighborhoods more attractive and welcoming.”
South Florida’s Best Block. The competition, presented with the Miami Herald and WLRN, culminated in an award ceremony in early October. From more than 200 photos and videos, judges chose cash prize winners as well as the overall best block: Espanola Way in Miami Beach. Miami Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch says, “The competition engaged an unprecedented cross-section of South Floridians in a discussion about how blocks with a mix of uses create rich urban life.” More at miamiherald.com/bestblock.
Hi-Res Miami. Work has already begun on architectural plans in collaboration with Interface Studio Architects. The prototype will be tailored for Miami, with input from numerous stakeholders. The plans will be downloadable for free to reduce costs for local developers. From Interface principal Brian Phillips: “Miami has great potential for neighborhoods that are dense but not towering. The city should be filled in with small, mixed-use buildings to create high-resolution neighborhoods that are flexible, sustainable, and of enduring value.”
Architecture Course. Townhouse Center is working with Florida International University associate professor Jason Chandler on a course for this spring semester about designing small urban buildings. The course will begin by taking 90 students to Savannah, Georgia for a weekend. In Jason’s words, “The students will experience Savannah’s remarkable context of small urban buildings. Such buildings promote diversity and community interaction, and add up to neighborhoods that are deceptively complex and resilient.”
All three Knight Foundation grants are accompanied by fiscal sponsorship from the Miami Foundation. If you care about building better urban neighborhoods, especially in Miami, consider partnering with Townhouse Center or supporting our programs.