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Honor Award -- Communications

South County Design Manual

Peter Flinker, ASLA, Dodson Associates, Ltd.

Peter Flinker
Principal, Dodson Associates, Ltd.
463 Main Street
Ashfield, MA 01330
Tel: 413-628-4496
Fax: 413-628-3216
peter@dodsonassociates.com

Project Purpose: The South County Design Manual shows how the principles of sustainable design and smart growth can be applied to small towns in a developing rural area. It bridges the gap between planning at the town scale, and design and construction decisions made on the level of the site. It shows that while many of the principles of smart growth can be applied anywhere, their successful application depends on a design process that respects and builds upon the characteristics and context of each unique site.

Role of the Landscape Architect: The Landscape Architect coordinated a multi- disciplinary team including planners, lawyers, and natural resource scientists in a project designed to provide technical planning assistance to nine towns. Products included model zoning ordinances, reports detailing best management practices for watershed protection, and strategies to promote farming and forestry. The Design Manual, written and illustrated by the Landscape Architect, was the centerpiece of the project -it was meant to show how design processes rooted in the traditions of Landscape Architecture can be used to fit development into the landscape, allowing growth to continue in a way that respects existing natural and cultural resources. While it focuses on better site planning and design, the Manual shows that these can be achieved only through a more flexible approach to regulation, coupled with detailed planning and design at the scale of the neighborhood, town and region.

Significance: Many people in small towns understand and support smart growth as a concept, but have trouble applying these ideas on the local level. They are often stymied by regulations that mandate commercial sprawl and cookie-cutter residential development, and have to fight resistance to change among their fellow citizens, who prefer the devil they know to some mysterious ideas from outside the area. Town and regional plans, meanwhile, often focus on large-scale policy issues, while reducing site- level mandates to over-simplified formulas for use and density .The design manual approach cuts through these problems by demonstrating how these creative ideas work, using local sites as test cases. The planning and design scenarios clearly show that there are alternatives to business-as-usual, and that these creative ideas can allow growth to continue in a way that respects the environmental, social, and visual character of small towns.

The South County Design Manual takes this approach to a new level. Each scenario connects town and regional planning ideas with detailed design recommendations on the site level, showing how one end of the spectrum can and should inform the other. Illustrated with hundreds of user-friendly sketches and photographs, it is also a uniquely accessible document, useful to both lay people and professional planners. Finally, it illustrates the growing role that Landscape Architects can and should take in local planning, as the only professional trained to forge the critical links between regional planning and site design.

2002 Award Winners
Press Releases
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