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ARBOR CITY 2050 CHAMPAIGN, IL FALL 2011 - Community design studio

The goal of the project is to propose a vision for a section of the University aimed at both Urbana residents and students or several different demographics. Walkable communities were researched to find efficient techniques in order to achieve a sense of neighborhood. Examples of failed planning were also researched. The analysis phase was quick, with the instructions to propose a completely new and restructured area, only keeping in mind the arboretum’s current (and most likely permanent) location. With the arboretum taking up a significant portion of the mile by half-mile wide site, it’s importance would be emphasized and integrated into the neighborhood to create an arbor city. The success of the project lends itself to a planned hierarchy of zoning, the use of a grid layout, a restructured transportation system, and targeting several age demographics. The result being a walkable and safe community that acts as an amenity to its residents.

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES The objectives of the project were to establish a community that maintained both function and form. Transportation methods played an important role in the design. Issues such as bike lanes were addressed in a manner that took into account safety and efficiency; separate from the street by a curb. Bike lanes are marked through intersections and are equipped with specific stop lights. Bus stops are present throughout the site. Vehicular traffic was given lower priority to pedestrian and alternative forms of transportation. Parking is limited; public garages are located outside of central districts to encourage walking into high density areas. Street parking exists in front of single family houses to create a barrier and slow traffic. Single family homes’ garages are accessed by narrow vehicular/pedestrian alleys. The intricate community layout promotes interaction between residents in a cohesive approach to promote the use of different energy sources, reduce dependence on cars, and create an alternative way to live in the Champaign Urbana area.






Single family housing offers a lower density living environment slightly further away from the retail and business districts.



The central location offers residents of the surrounding neighborhoods to have efficient access with walking times minimized.


Serve as means to access garages. Speed limits are lower than primary streets.

Parking in front of single family homes assists in managing traffic speeds. Acts as an edge between the street and owned property.


Garages set back from house create personal outdoor spaces


Apartments likely rented by students and faculty of the University. First floor parking will be provided, and underground parking available in the larger complexes.


Taller houses spaced closer together with a small horizontal footprint and utilize shared parking spots


Arboretum reaches west adding a boundary between the existing houses north of Florida Avenue and the proposed apartments to the south.

0 mi

.25 mi

Single family housing

Retention Ponds

High Density Housing

Parking Lots

Mixed-use Retail

Public Buildings

Multi-family Housing


.50 mi


An educational resource center to teach about the Native American tribes that used to inhabit the area.

.75 mi

1.00 mi

Arbor City 2050 is a vision for a new community neighborhood located directly south of The University of Illinois where the current Orchard Downs Graduate Housing is currently located. Situated on a mile by half mile wide parcel that includes the current Arboretum, the project aims at integrating a more complete arboretum into a walkable community that reaches out to students, families, and the elderly. This is accomplished through the use of multifunctional nodes for transportation, commerce, and living, in addition to the introduction of a senior living home.



There are three main nodes of commerce for citizens to congregate and interact. Each one targets a different demographic, with university students, professors and faculty, and elderly or middle income families represented in each. Bus routes run through each of the nodes for easy access for off-site residents. Above these commercial buildings are apartments and office spaces.

Outside of the multi-use retail areas, high density temporary living complexes exist before gradually turning into single family homes. This gradient creates a hierarchy of densities and contributes to the walkability. The northern areas are targeted for graduate students due to it’s close location to the University campus. The middle and south districts are designated permanent housing.



Single family housing is located directly outside of the multi-family housing areas, creating quieter neighborhoods still located within walking distance to the commercial areas. Houses are slanted for solar gain and most include detached garages which help create private yard spaces. Row homes are densely located and have shared driveways for parking cars.

The intricate community layout promotes interaction between residents in a cohesive approach to promote the use of different energy sources, reduce dependence on cars, and create an alternative way to live in the Champaign Urbana area.

STREET HIERARCHY Streets are ordered in a strong grid layout, which allows easy navigation. The straight streets allow for increased vehicle visibility, creating safer streets for pedestrians. The busiest streets bisect the neighborhood north-south and east-west. They can also be found around the main square and in the other two districts along the multi-use retail buildings.

BUS ROUTES Two main bus routes are proposed along the main north-south street for easy and fast transport across the mile. One winds through the area, going through each of the main commercial districts before heading east into the adjacent Urbana neighborhood.

BIKE PATHS Bikes will be allowed on all streets in Arbor City, however, certain streets will be equipped with designated bike lanes separated from the street by a curb. These can be found on the main high-traffic streets, but also on a few streets through the single family housing residential areas.

COMPLETE STREET Complete streets will be equipped for shared use between cars, pedestrians, and bikes. Dedicated bike lanes will be separated from the street, and will contain curbs in the intersection to provide safety from vehicles. This will not interfere with pedestrian crossings.

Arbor City