While sustainable urban design has been developed and richly debated in the last few decades, it is still largely a dispersed subject covering a broad range of disciplines and scales. Much of the discussion regarding sustainable urban design have either focused on narrow aspects of it, or, when discussing the field at large, have failed to relate its distinct parts. This makes it difficult for practitioners and researchers to identify and prioritize what needs to be addressed and evaluated. This is true of the general literature, of research studies, and of rating systems developed both in the U.S. and Europe.
Nico Larco, an associate professor of architecture at the University of Oregon, presents an overall framework for sustainable urban design that addresses specific goals and organizes these goals based on scales of intervention. This framework attempts to map out the range of issues related to sustainable urban design – and its specific elements – and organizes them in a way that engages the planning and design process and allows comparison across scales and across outcome goals.
Larco is also a co-founder and co-director of the Sustainable Cities Initiative, a nationally and internationally awarded, multidisciplinary organization that focuses on sustainability issues as they relate to the built environment.
Professor Larco’s research focus is on sustainable urban design, active transportation, street design, and how urban design affects the sustainability of buildings. He recently developed the Sustainable Urban Design Framework that identifies sustainability goals and organizes urban design elements and approaches based on these goals and a project’s scale. He is currently working on a book on the subject with Routledge that is due out in early 2017.
Larco’s Sustainable Urban Design Framework was recently featured in a special issue of the Journal of Urban Design, Larco’s article provides a road map or guide to help urban designers and researchers understand the elements and topics in urban design that should be considered when addressing sustainability.