Here is a fun (and easy) way to recap our Forum events from 2012.  Above is our poster collage of event images and a numbered list describing each monthly event.  See if you can match the images with the specific event.  Answers are at the bottom.  Thanks for your interest and participation.  See you in 2013!



1. Urbanism Better

The New Urbanism Movement is changing to respond and continue to advance trends on planning and development.

Image:  Book jacket cover:  The New Urbanism, 1991 Rizzoli

THE JANUARY 10 EVENT:  We welcomed Rob Steuteville, Publisher of New Urban News (NUN). NUN is a fifteen year old news source for New Urbanism which recently changed its name to Better! Cities & Towns.  Participants learned about who has been historically involved in New Urbanism, how and if New Urbanism is succeeding, what is it about New Urbanism people relate to and do not relate to, what is prompting the need to change, what is now needed for New Urbanism to take the next steps and who will implement the next steps, and whether this is will achieve a more focused outcome or runs the risk of diluting ideals.

OVERVIEW:  New Urbanism has been the leading force for nearly twenty years in promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthier living conditions. The hallmarks of New Urbanism, include:

• Livable streets arranged in compact, walkable blocks.

• A range of housing choices to serve people of diverse ages and income levels.

• Schools, stores and other nearby destinations reachable by walking, bicycling or transit service.

• An affirming, human-scaled public realm where appropriately designed buildings define and enliven streets and other public spaces.

PARTNERS:  Congress for the New Urbanism Carolinas


2. Traffic Garden

Road safety and traffic-calming through design and education

Images:  traffic garden for children in Utrecht, Netherlands

Habersham's intimate and organic streetscapes provide traffic safety. 

PURPOSE: Bring primary-school age children into an intimate controlled area where they can have fun and learn about road safety from the point of view of pedestrians, cyclists, transit, and drivers.

OVERVIEW:  Some local bike enthusiasts have been promoting the idea of creating a road-safety educational venue similar to the traffic garden concept used in Europe and around the world.  Civic By Design is hosting this idea seeking suggestions and possible locations.  


1.Participants received a presentation on traffic gardens and road-safety, and the concept of traffic calming. 

2. Local advocates and experts presented proposals for creating a Traffic Garden pilot project for Charlotte.  

3. Participants and presenters discussed what kind of traffic gardens can benefit our region. 

4. Round table groups explored (hands-on using maps) design ideas on sites/communities proposed for traffic gardens.


City of Charlotte Transportation and Planning

CABA -  Charlotte Area Bicycle Association 

Carolina Healthcare Systems


Article: Clever traffic gardens teach kids about road safety

3. Image Making

How media and advertising have shaped our views of the South

Image:  Book jacket cover:  Dreaming of Dixie

THE MARCH 13 EVENT:  Special invitation of Civic by Design on image-making at Levine Museum of the New South for a reception and lecture sponsored by UNCC’s Center for the Study of the New South.  Dr. Karen Cox is author of Dreaming of Dixie, a new book explored how media and advertising have shaped our views of the South.  

PARTNERS:  Levine Museum of the New South and UNCC’s Center for the Study of the New South


4. Bike Sharing

A Global View

Photo Image:  Martin Zimmerman picking up his bikeshare bike in Strasbourg, France

Why is "bike share" the rage and where does Charlotte fit into the bigger picture?

THE APRIL 10 EVENT:  With 236,000 bicycles in 33 countries and still accelerating, bike sharing is on the move!  Martin had just returned from a study tour of Buenos Aires, Argentina where he experienced the bike share systems and interviewed bike system managers, experts and local advocatesPrior tours of Paris, Lyon, and Strasbourg in France and Washington D.C. in the USA have rounded out his views of bike share's merits and challenges. He has an article pending publication for Urban Land magazine on his findings. Martin Zimmerman has been Executive Director of the Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance since 2003. He has appeared in past Civic by Design Forums. He is also a city planner and journalist having written over 80 articles and reviews on current issues of urban design, smart growth and mobility in the USA and abroad. He received the Community Award for Sustainable Transportation from Sustain Charlotte earlier this month for CABA's advocacy work.   

PARTNERS:  Levine Museum of the New South and the Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance


5. Charlotte Walks

1. People gather for a common cause. 

2. People gather in a common place. 

3. People take a common journey together. 

THE MAY 8 EVENT:  Each year on the first weekend in May, the anniversary of Jane Jacobs’ birthday, communities across the globe host neighborhood walks to help people get more familiar with their cities. In Charlotte, and Levine Museum of the New South have partnered to sponsor the Queen City’s first Jane Jacobs Walk.  We joined Mary Newsom for a conversation on the essential philosophy behind the Jane Jacobs Walk movement. As part of our panel we invited some of our distinguished friends  in town this week for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) national conference to join us as panelists. The Jane Jacobs Walk website puts it this way: “A firm believer in the importance of local residents having input on how their neighborhoods develop, Jacobs encouraged people to familiarize themselves with the places where they live, work, and play.”

PARTNERS:  Levine Museum of the New South and Plan Charlotte


6. Reboot I-277 Loop

A Green Repair of Center City

Images; From media artist Rob Carter's "Metropolis"  

THE JUNE 12 EVENT:  We invited citizens to bring their ideas and hear other creative folks' thinking outside the loop.    We looked at not only the off ramps but how the whole loop can be transformed.  We looked along the sides on what buildings and green spaces could be included.   We looked at how the overpasses and underpasses can be transformed through public art, landscape, additional structures and levels for other uses.  We discussed new venues for recreation, sports, fitness, and entertainment.   We discussed what other modes of transportation beside vehicles should be considers.  As a start we considered other modes of transportation including walking, cycling, transit. We agreed, this is a once-in-a-generation — even once-in-a-century — opportunity to reboot Charlotte's uptown transportation and environment and to begin the green repair of the city.  The physical form could include iconic structures, art, illumination, festivals?  How about simple but compelling quality of life opportunities for spectators , food trucking, skateboarding, movie night outings, skyline gazing, equestrian riding, rodeoing, racing, farming, grazing, tree planting, pick-your-own produce, picnicking, dancing, camping, rappelling, artisan crafting, energy manufacturing, weaving, bannering, or simply more billboarding.  Is now the time to mention a world exposition?  


PARTNERS:  City of Charlotte Transportation Department,  Levine Museum of the New South, and Plan Charlotte

REFERENCE:   More detailed information about the I-277/I-77 off-ramp study: 

An article on the study by Mary Newsom:

Rob Carter's "Metropolis" :; last 3 minutes

7. Hospital Placemaking

How can Hospitals Create Active, Healthy Communities through Placemaking? 

2 Images:  Aerial views of existing and proposed redevelopment plans for St Francis Hospital, Midlothian, Virginia.  The transformation from an isolated suburban pod into a connected pedestrian friendly walkable mixed-use, mixed-income community with the hospital as the anchor.

THE JULY 10 EVENT:  Research has suggested that the land use and transportation patterns that characterize urban sprawl have health implications. Heavy use of motor vehicles contributes to air pollution, which increases respiratory and cardiovascular disease as well as overall mortality. Declining physical activity, related to decreased walking, contributes to obesity, diabetes, and associated ailments. Increased time spent in traffic raises the risk of traffic crashes, and roads built for cars but not pedestrians pose a risk of pedestrian injuries and fatalities. “Men in the lowest quintile of physical activity have 2-3 times the risk of dying overall, and 3-5 times the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease compared with men who are more fit.  Among women, walking 10 block per day or more is associated with a 33% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.  The risk associated with poor physical fitness is comparable to, and in some studies greater than, the risk associated with hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and even smoking.  Among diabetics, the higher the blood sugar, the more protective is physical fitness. Physical activity also appears to be protective against cancer.”  Public health officials are calling for land planning policies and regulations to support a built environment conducive to physical activity as an integral part of daily life. Pedestrian friendly, walkable communities have proven successful in addressing public health issues including obesity and chronic heart and respiratory diseases. Policy changes are necessary to accommodate this type of development across the Charlotte region.

During the Forum we heard about how one Hospital system is promoting diverse walkable communities by starting with the redevelopment of their hospital campuses.


PARTNERS:    Levine Museum of the New South and Plan Charlotte

REFERENCE:   On local public health statistics and public health impacts of the built environment: 

University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute 

Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index 

Centers for Disease Control 

American Planning Association 

8. Hollywood Eastland 

Hollywood Comes to Eastland Mall 


2 Images:  Aerial views of the existing dead Eastland Mall, Charlotte NC and very urban and architecturally robust Paramount Studies, Hollywood, CA 


This was another Forum in an on-going series of previous meetings/workshops/design ideas including mini-movies towards implementing the redevelopment of Eastland Mall.

The following was included in this event:

1.  Presented/referenced great movie industry communities with visuals and case studies.

2.  Showed scale comparisons of great movie making communities and Eastland — urban and robust.

3.  Discussed the differences between a movie theme park and a real movie making studio complex — which will this be? Or both?

4.  Talked about what the surrounding community can expect in terms of transformation - movie industry workers housing, spin-off businesses, types of appealing community social gathering places we can create jobs.

5.  Discussed how people can get involved and how can tapping into a range of local and international resources/processes be beneficial for Charlotte. 


PARTNERS:    Levine Museum of the New South and the City of Charlotte


City Council OKs deal to buy Eastland Mall, hoping for TV and movie studios:

Charlotte Sprawl Repair - Eastland Mall:

9. Relax Shout

Now we can relax, and SHOUT, then... 

Now that we made it through the biggest event (DNC) ever showcasing Charlotte on the world stage, most folks didn't have the mental energy for our usual Forum venue this month so we took a break and instead accepted an invitation to:


Tuesday, September 11, 7:30 pm

United House of Prayer for All People

2321 Beatties Ford Road (just south of I-85)

A celebration of religious “roots music” featuring a capella singing plus the high-energy trombone “shout band” tradition found only in the United House of Prayer. Ninth annual!

Presented by Levine Museum of the New South, co-sponsored by Charlotte Center City Partners.


10. School Design

The Learning Cottage Initiative

Image:  Street view of the Learning Cottage campus for Carlton Landing OK

The October Civic By Design Forum revisited the topic of School Design including an update of our successful Learning Cottage initiative which now is being implemented.  Experts and school providers from both the public sector and private sector joined us.  In addition, we conducted a hands-on Learning Cottage design workshop to study some potential school sites in our region including a new school on West Boulevard for Renaissance Learning Village.


We discussed:

How we can rise to the challenge and create better schools with less money through a rethinking of school design. 

How we can address the difficulty that county governments currently face as they try to meet their statutory obligation to provide adequate public school facilities. 

This was another Forum in an on-going series of previous meetings/workshops/design ideas on Schools that lauched our successful Learning Cottage initiative.


PARTNERS:    Levine Museum of the New South, Carlton Landing Academy, and Renaissance Learning Village


The Carlton Landing Academy Learning Cottage Campus opened in August, 2012. The school is located in Carlton Landing Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma as part of Canadian Public Schools (the highest performing district in all surrounding counties), the Carlton Landing Academy initially includes  Kindergarten through 5th Grade. The Academy will add additional grades in coming years as student demand warrants. As a public school, there is no tuition. Students from outside Carlton Landing or outside Canadian Public School District may attend as space is available.

Charlotte's Renaissance Learning Village's theme for the overall development (not just the school) is to create an "educational village", partnering with the nearby Southview Recreation Center and the CPCC Harris Campus who will collaborate with the Charlotte Housing Authority (CHA) to create a "cradle to career" environment.  The Renaissance is a HOPE VI development led by the Charlotte Housing Authority and Laurel Street Residential. It is designed to be an Educational Village located in proximity to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, one of our region’s largest employment hubs.  The CHA is partnering with the nearby Southview Recreation Center and the CPCC Harris Campus to offer "cradle to career" educational opportunities for the residents in the community and the surrounding neighborhood

N.C. Supreme Court rules Cabarrus County lacks authority to impose fee for new schools on builders.  Read more here:


11. Smart Urbanism

The Smart Math of Fiscal Urbanism

Image:  Analysis of value related to land area, design, and density in Asheville NC

This was another Forum in an on-going series of previous meetings/workshops/design ideas discussions on the fiscal health of greater Charlotte’s future and how the design of the City affects the community’s economic future. The Charlotte Observer had recently run a story about the competing interests vying for the creation of retail outlet malls.  Lacking in the story was any discussion on local economic affect either in gains or costs to Charlotte-Meklenburg residents, or even any numbers beyond square footage allotments.  Additionally, what are our alternatives and how can the design of our community affect our community’s wealth?  And what is really the best thing for Charlotte residents in the long run?  Joe Minicozzi, principal of Urban3, presented a stimulating assessment of how the design of cities is directly tied to the economics of tax base and community wealth.  He showed how the numbers have worked in Asheville as well as cities across the country.  Joe also presented data analysis techniques that are gaining new ground in planning in the way we have just witnessed them practiced by Nate Silver with his electoral projections on his 538 blog.  The math is indeed here for us to use and make smarter choices in our community design that build our wealth rather than continually pushing our communities into a race to the bottom.    


The following were included in this event:

1.  A presentation on the economic turnaround of Asheville NC.

2.  A demonstration of the economic effect of mixed-use urbanism from around the country.

3.  Discussion on the economics of retail tax production.

4.  Talk about the continued path of single-use land use thinking and what it will lead to for Charlotte-Meklenburg taxpayers.

5.  How can people get involved?  How can tapping into a range of local and international resources/processes be beneficial for Charlotte? 


PARTNERS:    Public Interest Projects, Asheville Design Center, and Levine Museum of the New South

REFERENCES: Joseph Minicozzi, AICP CNU IAAO is the principal of Urban3, LLC, a consulting company of the real estate developer Public Interest Projects. He served as the Executive Director for the Asheville Downtown Association and the before moving to Asheville, he was the primary administrator of the Form Based Code for downtown West Palm Beach, FL.  Joe’s cross-training in city planning in the public and private sectors, as well as private sector real estate finance has allowed him to develop specific analytic tools that have garnered national attention in Planetizen, The Wall Street Journal, Planning MagazineThe New Urban NewsNational Association of RealtorsAtlantic Cities, and the Center for Clean Air Policy’s Growing Wealthier report.  His work has been featured at the Congress for New Urbanism, the American Planning Association, The International Association of Assessing Officers, and New Partners for SmartGrowth conferences as a paradigm shift for thinking about development patterns.  Joe is a founding member of the Asheville Design Center, a non-profit community design center dedicated to creating livable communities across all of Western North Carolina.  He received his Bachelor of Architecture from University of Miami and Masters in Architecture and Urban Design from Harvard University.

As Tanger, Simon pursue Charlotte-area outlet malls, speed, price are keys (story below)

12. Raise Bar

How can we "raise the bar" for development in South End and greater Charlotte?

Image:  As part of the Reboot the Loop initiative — consultant's concept for a $300M 'Belk Cap"' to I-277 between South End and Center City

South End's is considered by many as Charlotte's premium urban neighborhood adjacent to Center City.  The combination of old and new buildings threaded with transit gives it a unique and memorable character. Unfortunately, some recent development has fallen short of contributing to the collective vision for South End. Instead of developments composed of a vibrant mixture of uses in architecturally diverse buildings, the recent norm has been single use rental residential projects of a predictable size, scale, and design. It is important to prevent dilution of the quality that has brought South End so far — especially when there is increasing momentum to enhance South End's connectivity and public realm quality of life.  For this Civic By Design Forum we considered ways to continue building toward the vision of South End as a neighborhood rich in urban texture and vitality, higher urban design, architectural, and land use standards.


The following were included in this event:

1.  Reviewed development projects in the South End related to the recent concerns with the quality and type of development getting built.

2.  Discussed desired urban design elements or outcomes that are not being realized in development projects under existing ordinances and plans.

3.  Identified specific incremental changes, new design standards, and new procedures that can resolve these concerns.

4.  Proposed specific changes to zoning standards, design guidelines, procedures, or area plan elements that might achieve the desired elements or outcomes, and yield higher quality design within the Transit Station Areas.

5.  Discussed how we can get involved in raising the bar for development in South End and the Charlotte region.

PARTNERS:    City of Charlotte, Charlotte Center City Partners, and Levine Museum of the New South

REFERENCES:  I-277/I-77 Loop Study Overview and Recommendations, City of CharlotteTransportation and Planning Committee Report, December 3, 2012

2012 Forums were part of our initiative:

Back to the basic Rs:




Charlotte towards a 

Relevant Region of the future

Answers to Puzzle:  A6, B7, C11, D12, E1, F2, G8, H5, I3, J10, K9, L4


Second Tuesday of the Month | 5:30pm – 6:30pm

Levine Museum of the New South

200 East Seventh Street

Charlotte NC

Free and open to the public

Free parking at 7th Street parking garage