Poyntz Avenue: A re:NEWed mixed-use downtown core

1 04 2011

Project by Joshua Gilmore


The downtown area of Manhattan, Kansas has missed a huge opportunity for a very long time in improving the nightlife and vibrancy of the core of this community. Along Poyntz Avenue in downtown Manhattan, many small boutique shops and restaurants line an attractive thoroughfare. The first floors of these magnificent historic buildings lend a quaint air of historical significance to this district. The second stories of these buildings, however, offer nothing to the public other than a charming façade from the street level.

Many of these buildings have unused second and even third stories that could offer up a unique dwelling to students and young professionals in the area. The location of these properties could lend a sense of culture and well-being to their inhabitants. With enrollment at Kansas State University on the rise as well as the upcoming construction of the NBAF facility in Manhattan, Kansas, there will come a huge rise in the demand for affordable housing in the area for a highly educated population.

Bounded on two sides by the rivers upon which Manhattan was founded, and the surrounding Flint Hills, Manhattan is not left with much room for expansion by sprawl. This invites one to consider urban infill and re-densification of the core. Why should the community rely on building new structures upon land that could lend itself to other uses when there are spaces already constructed being unused in the downtown core?

A trend has become mainstream in the design of mixed-use districts that contain many of the conveniences one would need for everyday life including; housing, shopping, retail, restaurants, etc. These mixed-use districts have everything within a small walkable area. With proposals to integrate these “Transit Oriented Districts” in Manhattan, why should we not first have a trial in the already established downtown core?

Turning these vacant second and third stories into dwellings for students and young professionals will create a mixed-use area in the downtown core. This area will bring more people into the downtown and with more than just 9-5 businesses in the area, will have a chance to create a nightlife and vibrancy along Poyntz.

Poyntz Avenue: A re:NEWed mixed-use downtown core


Residential Improvement

31 03 2011

The importance of the residential neighborhood inside of the
South-East quadrant is its location. The neighborhood is bordered
on the north by Poyntz Avenue and on the east by Manhattan’s New
cross-town Development. If Fort Riley Boulevard is developed into a
true boulevard, this neighborhood will also border that development,
and increase its value even more. Increasing the density of this
neighborhood could then provide a larger population base to support
these developments and businesses.

The current neighborhood primarily consists of traditional single
family houses. The blocks are laid out in a gridiron pattern with
narrow streets, making it nice for pedestrians. These are two of the
best features the neighborhood already has. On the other hand this
neighborhood also has some undesirable features. Some of the
housing stock is poorly maintained and others very small, allowing for
few residents. The duplexes in this neighborhood do little to blend in
with their surroundings making them unpleasant to look at.

The main objective is to increase the density of the neighborhood.
The current block configuration has an average of 16 residents per
block. This number can easily be doubled with the use of back houses.
This number can be further increased with a front house that can be
divided up into multiple units over time. Preserving the character of
the neighborhood is also important. This means that certain homes
need to be kept. It also means that any new homes built need to fi t in
with those older homes. However, there needs to be uniqueness. This
variety can be taken further and allow for different types of housing.

Residential Improvement PDF

Near Net Zero Energy Backhouses, Granny Flats and Garage Apartments: A Strategy for Increasing Density and Sustainability in the Older Neighborhoods

31 03 2011

As our country continues to grow and expand, we need to learn how not to. With the continuing rise in gas prices, and the estimated decline of supply in the future, some 50% less on the market in 2050, it is becoming more and more imperative to increase the density of our cities. Manhattan is not an exception to this. The population of Manhattan has already passed the 50,000 mark, and some except the population to reach 70,000 by 2050.

There are many strategies to increase density in a metropolitan area.  The most traditional way is to tear down and rebuild.  This is not very sustainable and requires a large amount of money up front. A better, and more sustainable, way to increase density in metropolitan areas such as Manhattan is the implementation of backhouses, granny flats, and garage apartments. In a city such as Manhattan, which has a Jeffersonian gird system, implementing backhouses, granny flats and garage apartments would require little to no new infrastructure, requires a small amount of money compared to tear down and rebuild construction, and can be costume designed to fit any situation needed.  The introduction of backhouses, granny flats, and garage apartments can double the population in a neighborhood, without disturbing the character of the neighborhood.

My study will look at the older neighborhoods of Manhattan, mainly the ones within walking distance of Manhattan’s future bus system.  I will develop a series of backhouses, granny flats and garage apartments that will fit into these neighborhoods, spaciously and characteristically. I plan to design the backhouses, granny flats, and garage apartments using LEED design requirement, Net Zero Energy best practices, and Aging in Place best practices to create the most sustainable houses as possible. I also plan to follow the Chicago Green Alley Handbook and the International Dark-Sky Association’s guidelines to create green and sustainable alley and street ways that the backhouses, granny flats, and garage apartments will be off of.

Conference Board Presentation

Kimball Eco-Village

31 03 2011

Kimball Eco-Village: Future In Agricultural Urbanity 

Pioneer the future of Agriculture and urban
form: Agricultural Urbanism
The University was founded in 1863 upon the assertion that it would pioneer in
the fields of agriculture and engineering to advance our nation. Through research
and technological innovation, Kansas State University has helped our
country evolve, especially in the field of agriculture. As we look towards the future,
a future shrouded in energy scarcity, environmental destabilization, and
increasingly poor health and nutrition throughout the population, it becomes imperative
that KSU pick up the reins again, and help drive a new sustainable form
of development.

Kansas State University Concept Farm: a bioshelter market garden

31 03 2011

What is it?

The Kansas State University Concept Farm is a small-scale intensive farm that can offer many benefits to the community and region. Food security is enhanced, organic matter and excess fertilizer are removed from the waste water stream, healthy soil is built, streams are cleaner, and the groundwater is recharged. This organic farm, with its diversity of crops and other plantings, enhances local biodiversity and helps create and preserve critical habitat for wildlife, especially pollinating insects such as bees. This concept farm offers beautiful spaces for social gatherings, opportunities for educational events and the chance to reconnect the community back to the earth. The local culture as a whole is enhanced when locally grown foods are available and people have direct access to nature and agriculture. This type of farming is here to test the possibilities of sustainable agriculture with a emphasis on self-reliance and creating energy for the future.


Fort Riley Boulevard: The Transition to an Urbane, Mixed-Use Streetcar Avenue

31 03 2011

Due to decreasing oil reserves and ever-increasing gas prices, transportation in 2050 will be very different than it is today. This will inspire different methods of transportation, such as mass transit, bicycling, and just plain walking. By implementing a streetcar system down the existing Fort Riley Boulevard, adding separate bike lanes, and increasing the width of sidewalks along Fort Riley Boulevard, we can achieve these methods of transportation in an environmentally friendly and cost-efficient way.

Fort Riley Boulevard, as it stands today is a major thoroughfare through Manhattan, KS. Often times, it is the first street that visitors drive down when entering Manhattan, and therefore, it should be a beautiful corridor in which one can travel. However, this is not the case. Currently, Fort Riley Boulevard is lined with strip malls, large parking lots, and random and sporadic building design. There is virtually no cohesion behind any architectural elements, and what is there is poorly maintained. This project is meant to change all of these issues.

There are essentially three pieces to this project. The main piece is of course, the boulevard itself. The existing infrastructure of the street would be narrowed, with each interior lane of traffic being retrofitted with a streetcar system.  Narrowing the traffic lanes, would help promote slower traffic speeds, and therefore safer pedestrian travel. The middle lane of traffic, currently the turn lane, would be converted into a bioswale, where several types of greenery and vegetation could grow and storm water runoff could drain into and permeate into the soil. These bioswales would also run along either side of the street, separating vehicular traffic from a newly installed bike-lane frontage road. Between the bike lane and the pedestrian sidewalk would be another strip of green space lined with trees, to bring life and beauty into the boulevard, making a walkable atmosphere, that one could imagine strolling down and window shopping on a nice Spring day.

The second piece, the North side would be a mixture of mixed-use structures and row houses. The mixed-use structure would incorporate entertainment venues and retail spaces that the general public could enjoy, while supporting an increased density of living above. These units would market themselves towards the higher class of the two sides of Fort Riley, being the more accessible of the two from the current historic district of Manhattan, and the more marketable. Along the North of these blocks would be a series of row houses that would be a transition density between the relatively high density of the mixed-use edge and the lower density of the historic housing farther North.

The third piece, the South side of Fort Riley would also incorporate a mixed-use wall to encompass the boulevard, but it would serve a different purpose. Being the less accessible side, due to traffic flow, the mixed-use living would be marketed towards the blue-collar class of working Americans. The units would be more affordable, but slightly less luxurious. The shops on the first floor, would also be different, taking on a more service-based program. This could include bike shops, appliance repair, small office spaces, etc… On the South side of the block, adjacent to the train tracks, would be a light industrial / warehouse district where local production and repair would take place. This could take on programmatic functions such as: mass food production, weapons and ammunition production for the Fort Riley base, computer repair and production, auto body shops with proper equipment for electric vehicles, and many other possibilities. Among the blocks, both North and South of Fort Riley, would be green spaces, and pocket parks where those living and working in the area could gather and relax outside.

Much of this is better represented through imagery, so our Sustainability Conference poster has been made available for you to view.

Sustainability Conference Presentation

Downtown Manhattan’s North End

31 03 2011

North End: Case Study in Sprawl Repair and Community Development