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Seven American TODs: Good practices for urban design in Transit-Oriented Development projects

Analyzes 7 TOD projects in terms of urban design and discusses “good practices” for future TOD projects focusing on development processes, place-making, and facilities.


Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) projects depend on good urban design to co­ordinate transportation types, mix land uses, and create an appealing public space, all in a limited area. Scholarly attention, however, has been largely focused on the public policy aspects of TOD development such as planning strategies and ënancing options. Less attention has been paid to ënding ways to overcome some of the inherent di.culties of TOD project planning, such as balancing di.erent types of transporta­tion modes. If TOD projects are to be successful and meet the goals of policy makers, transportationengineers, planners, andthe general public, greater understanding of the successes and failures of TODs in terms of their urban design practices is needed. .is paper analyzes urban design outcomes in seven American TOD projects to draw out “good practices” in urban design, focusing on development processes, place-making, and facilities. .e seven projects valuable lessons for future TOD project implementation.

This paper contributes to discussions about TOD by drawing on a systematic comparative analysis of the urban design features of speciëc TOD projects that many (though not all) commentators consider to be good examples of urban design (Adams 1994; AIA 2002; Bernick and Cervero 1996; Leach 2004; Cervero 1998; Zucker 2003). Data were collected using audit tools, inventories, workshops (modiëed focus groups) with design experts and community-or government-based stakeholders, map­ping, and traditional visual assessments. .e study placed the sites in context through case histories. It then used the urban design assessment and cases to ëlter and revise the “best practices” advice given in important experience-based professional literature. In light of the context-dependent and unique nature of individual TOD projects, we a series of “good practices” with wide applicability. .ese guidelines can provide a next generation of advice for TOD design, emphasizing visual quality as well as a number of livability characteristics such as vitality and human scale.