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Community, Sustainability


Smarter planning strategies for SWFL

The Dollars and Sense of Growth in Collier County Event

Collier County, in partnership with Blue Zones Project SWFL offered a special event “The Dollars and Sense of Growth in Collier County” with speakers Joe Minicozzi and Galina Tachieva. Both presenters discussed opportunities for creating better and healthier communities in Collier County. We at Hlevel Architecture attended and learned about real changes that will potentially affect future urban planning in Southwest Florida.

Cities are designed around cars

Since the 1950s, North America has planned their cities around cars, pushing people and communities further apart. Now, many districts are trying to reverse the effects of these so-called sprawling cities.  They fill pockets of communities with higher density developments that encourage economic growth and more walkability.

Collier County is growing-and sprawling

Collier County is a fast-growing region but the current Land Development Code is complicated and outdated. If done right, new planning strategies will create dynamic, walkable communities. These new area-specific Form Codes will benefit residents, economics and the environment. It is however important to educate developers and planners on the importance of smart growth principles. Galina Tachieva, managing partner at the Duany Plater-Zyberk firm, and author of the award-winning Sprawl Repair Manual and the Smart Code Sprawl Repair Manual tackled these topics and more. You can find out about her work here.

Good urbanism generates $$

Joe Minicozzi, urbanist with Urban3, laid out the value of changing the planning behavior.  He explained the economic potency of urbanism and the value of well-designed cities. His geo-spatial representation of economic productivity already created a shift in other parts of the USA and around the world. Minicozzi talked about complex tax calculations and the value of land versus cost of developments, but got his points across to less-math savvy people like us, by using compelling graphics and a humorous style. He definitely challenges the way people typically think about planning and growth.

Being part of the change at Hlevel

We really hope that the conversation on these topics continues and that we can be part of good changes. In fact, Hlevel Architecture has a diverse background in planning and sustainable design, with several examples of planning studies aimed to improve community growth and health. For example, we worked on a pro-bono study in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health and Healthy Community Coalition. The plan focused on densifying, beautifying, and turning the high traffic corridor at the Bayshore Triangle into a safer pedestrian and bicycle friendly area.


An other study in Bayshore aimed to provide a more walkable, mix-use community with more affordable housing in the area.