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Town Architect

Town Architect

Whether working with private developers or builders, or with municipal authorities, Allison Ramsey Architects provides numerous and diverse town planning services. We believe that good architecture needs good planning and town design as a setting, and that good “place-making” results in “good communities.”

The role of the Town Architect is an important part of the development process, whether a private development or an urban revitalization carried on by a city. The Town Architect is the link between the planning process and the actual design and implementation of the project – and the Town Architect is the agent that insures the planning process informs the creation of the new development or revitalized urban area as envisioned by the planners.

For a new, Green field Development, the Town Architect picks up the design process when the planning process is underway. As part of the plan the determination of what types of housing, sizes of lots and styles of architecture are important factors that define the sense of what the new neighborhood(s) are and feel.
The Town Architect takes the finished plan and develops the Architectural Review Design guidelines and process. The design guidelines are a legal document that is attached to each lot requiring the lot owner to seek guidance and design review from either the Town Architect working alone or as part of a design review committee that will also have representatives from other stakeholders in the project such as the developer, sales agents, builders, and home owners/residents in the development. The design guidelines can be drawn up in varying ways: as a “Pattern Book” which is a visual representation of what the intentions of the rules are, as a one-page list of “do’s and don’ts”, or as a prose document. The pattern book method can be very beneficial especially in a market where the customers may be new to the concept of architectural review, or new to the concept of traditional neighborhood design – and can even be used as a sales tool early on in the implementation of the development by showing potential customers the intended outcome of what the guidelines are enforcing. The one-page list of do’s and don’ts is a popular addition to supplement an architectural guideline by providing a compact summation of what a builder can and cannot do, and what has to be clarified further.

A Town Architect helps the new development’s sales team by being “on-call” for helping a sales agent show a site to a potential buyer, especially if the lot is challenging or the potential buyer has difficulty envisioning how they could live on a specific lot in the new neighborhood. The Town Architect can quickly explain the site conditions, how the site relates to neighbors, streets sun angles, and future amenities or community features. The Town Architect can also quickly sketch a ”bubble diagram” floor plan layout for the customer, and at the same time explain design guidelines and the design review process, which may seem daunting (and an impediment to buying into the community at first) to some.

A Town Architect is also available to assist builders with ideas on how to develop multiple lots, how unique building types can give them a competitive advantage, and with designing model home packages. The basic idea of the Town Architect is that he/she is available to assist the developer in all aspects of design, implementation and marketing of the development.

For a city, town or urban neighborhood, the Town Architect helps guide the planning process in helping to determine the proper building heights, mass and proportions in the form-based-code regulations, as well as developing architectural guidelines and/or pattern books that reflect both the form based coding and the design and character of the urban landscape. The Town Architect stands as the agent and arbiter of the plan, the code and the guidelines as they are used by both the city/town planning officials and by the public. As someone who understands both the intent of the urban plan, the law of the form based code, and the intricacies of the construction process, the Town Architect makes it easier for the town to implement a plan, and for the public to participate in development activities without which the plan could stagnate. The Town Architect effectively behaves as a consultant providing design expertise to the municipal agency and to the public.

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