Sei sulla pagina 1di 6

The Shape of Suburbia

[Thinking of Michael Thompson and Albert Popes theses on the effect of terminal organization (cul-de-sacs) on social politics, the bedroom suburb of Mission Viejo, CA is mapped and analyzed for its distribution of different types of spaces, public and private.]
MISA GRANNIS | M.ARCH THESIS MANUAL 2011 | DESIGN EXPERIMENTS

MISA GRANNIS | M.ARCH THESIS MANUAL 2011 | DESIGN EXPERIMENTS

city hall and public library

MISA GRANNIS | M.ARCH THESIS MANUAL 2011 | DESIGN EXPERIMENTS

Most of Mission Viejo (pop. ~100,000) was planned by a single developer (The Irvine Company) in the late 1970s and was completed in 1980. It was one of the later developments in South Orange County due to its undevelopable (hilly) terrain. It has ranked in the top five of the nations safest city rating for the past decade. The main roads were built in the valleys and the neighborhoods were built on the hills following the topography, resulting in the curvy streets and the occasional empty patch of too-steep hillside. Those blank spaces remain some of the only empty space in the center of the city. (Much of the hilly edge is still empty, but new developments such as Ladera Ranch are springing up in the Saddleback Valley all the time.) Mission Viejos main artery is Marguerite Parkway which runs north to south roughly parallel to the 5 freeway. A manmade lake is located toward the north end of the city, and several gated communites are located in that area (as well as a few further south.) Most of the housing in MV is single-family, though a number of condos and townhouse developments exist. There are very few high-density apartment complexes and no high-rise buildings. Retail pockets are peppered throughout the city but large office buildings are located west around the freeway or in neighboring cities. The citys biggest attraction is the indoor mall known as The Shops at Mission Viejo. Since cities in this region are so geographically small, its common for people to drive a town or two over for entertainment (for example, the massive shopping center and entertainment complex the Irvine Spectrum is a ten minute drive up the freeway and is the most popular spot for nightlife in the area), so The Shops are effectively the only activity or hang-out spot in Mission Viejo proper. Due to the curfew enforced by the city of Irvine, however, the open-air retail complex The Kaleidoscope (located adjacent to The Shops) is a popular late-night hangout for middle-school students.

the large red swaths include two golf courses and a gated manmade lake accessible to members only (only MV residents are eligible for membership). small patches are typically members-only recreation centers.

housing developments (open and gated) and clubs

a large number of parks and fields are connected to schools and therefore not always publicly accessible

most office space is clustered near the freeway, with retail located at major intersections and a commercial center in the south

community buildings (inc. schools) and green spaces

commercial and retail


MISA GRANNIS | M.ARCH THESIS MANUAL 2011 | DESIGN EXPERIMENTS

the most exclusive housing is located furthest from the retail areas, mostly due to the fact that they were built later than the rest of the city and the low mountain range to the east is the only area available for expansion

most zones (insulated areas between major streets) have at least one elementary school embedded in the residential network

housing and commercial/retail

housing and community buildings (inc. schools)

most residential clusters have at least one open space (park or sports field), though many are on school or other private property

(shortest lines are feeders, the only access points from larger streets into a cluster of cul-de-sacs)

housing and green spaces

roads
MISA GRANNIS | M.ARCH THESIS MANUAL 2011 | DESIGN EXPERIMENTS

The logic behind the city planning is revealed through the mapping exercise: A curvilinear grid (following the existing valleys) defines the major residential clusters, and most of these areas surround an elementary school. Most of the city-owned parks are on or adjacent to elementaryschool property. There are only two wilderness parks in the city, but many undeveloped areas (shown as black on the map) too hilly to build upon, though many of those areas are technically owned by the houses at the top of the hill. There are two high schools and one community college in addition to the elementary and middle schools. Most of the commercial space is near the freeway, with small pockets of retail throughout and a few larger clusters (including one shopping mall, several strip malls and a theater/entertainment complex). The official divic city center is located near the geographic center of the city, but aside from the public library there is no real public space in that area. Since most of the land within city limits has already been filled with housing developments, the only opportunities for the creation of new public spaces are either in the black open areas (some of which are adjacent to official park spaces), in converting some of the massive retail parking lots, or in small interstitial moments between existing structures.

Next Steps
It would be interesting to perform this exercise on different citiesa successful urban area and an intentionally planned New Urbanist development, for exampleto compare the relative positioning and adjacencies of various types of program in a place proven to foster a sense of community
MISA GRANNIS | M.ARCH THESIS MANUAL 2011 | DESIGN EXPERIMENTS