This week, Brown Design had the privilege of working on a proposed redevelopment of a site in Franklin Township, New Jersey. The site would primarily feature a CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) alongside houses to be available on the market, and a small town center / market area with commercial space.
We started by investigating the surrounding area to see what sort of historical urban design techniques had already been utilized. Just down the street were two Christian camps (one active, one former). Pitman Grove, on the National Registry of Historic Places, was a Methodist summer camp built in the 1880s, laid out like a wagon wheel. The "spokes" were streets lined with houses, all pointing to a meeting hall located at the center. Down the road in the other direction is the Malaga Camp, laid out in a grid, but again featuring a design strategy that is built around a strong sense of community.
Using these camps as inspiration, we developed simple parti drawings at a very small scale to figure out how to divide the land, orient the lots, and run roads and streets. As we progressed, we increased the scale and detail level until we had a working concept site plan. We tried to divide the large plot of land into smaller neighborhoods located around central gardens.
After feedback from the clients, we refined the site plan to better illustrate our core themes of “pocket neighborhoods”, with cottages facing each other across a shared lawn or garden. We then constructed a Sketchup model and sketched over top of printed views of the model to produce some concept renderings, to better convey how we envision the site might appear.
It was a great experience for me, learning how to plan for the various levels of continuing care, including independent and assisted living, and how to design in such a way that caters as best as possible to both of them. We feel the result we’ve come up with is a great example of New Urbanist goals of designing to create a sense of community, of place, and provide many different unit types and sizes of residences for diverse age and income groups.