Seminole County: Coding for Intentional Growth

Seminole Country Growth map

Canin Associates is working with Seminole County to shape the next 20 years of growth in the unincorporated areas of the County. Our team has evaluated and proposed updates to the land development code to address a variety of issues ranging from “missing middle” housing, Florida Friendly landscape standards, and solar farms. A new mixed-use corridor zone will encourage forward-looking infill and redevelopment in the County’s major urbanized corridors.

More recently the County engaged Canin Associates to lead a visioning effort called Envision Seminole 2045, which is aimed at engaging residents and stakeholders in conversations about what might change and what should be preserved as the County is expected to absorb another 90,000 residents over the next 20 years.

Community priorities identified to date include preserving environmental lands, encouraging mixed-use redevelopment, and creating more opportunities to walk and bike safely and comfortably.

River Gorge Ranch: Mountain Time

River Gorge Amenities

A short drive from Chattanooga, Thunder Enterprises is developing a new community with approximately 2,000 homesites called River Gorge Ranch. The entire community is situated on Aetna Mountain overlooking the Tennessee River.

The development was designed to conserve the natural bluffs on the mountain and build each home into the topography. Each home and amenity will be designed to take advantage of the spectacular views. Our team has been working with the client to conceptualize each community feature to be offered on site.

The project will have several amenity sites connected through a variety of trail systems. The main amenity, at the entrance to the community at the top of the mountain, is the focal point of the development. The site will have a series of buildings that engage the dramatic views and are organized around a village square.

The plan is to have multiple structures to provide for resident and guest services. Programming for the site includes a public restaurant, fitness facility, resident’s club, overlook areas, and a local bodega.

The rest of the amenity site will offer cabin style houses and a large event lawn with a performance pavilion for community events. Mountain style architectural character sets the tone of the overall development which will utilize stone that is mined on site

Community Convenience: Right Sizing Amenities

canin amenities

Providing amenities in master planned communities and other residential land development projects always brings up the question:

What kind of amenities should we provide?

The answer is very subjective and considerations include everything from community needs and trends to development costs. In our experience, there are some good basics that can provide a usable and enjoyable amenity that increases the value of the overall community. There are two basic programming components that are usually a part of any advanced facility.

One is a community room and the other is a fitness area. In some communities, building more than just a pool facility is key to attracting new home buyers. Integrating the interior and exterior spaces are vital components to maximize the opportunities for residents and expand the programming on site. Ample outdoor spaces are an important feature, especially when they expand the function of interior rooms.

Additional site elements typically include a right sized pool, play areas for younger kids, sports facilities, and lawn spaces for gatherings and events. All programmed elements should relate to the regional context and anticipated community demographics. Simple solutions such as trails, access to nature, shade, open space, and ample seating are always key elements that can enhance the value for any amenity site.

Design Matters: Guiding the Details

canin design guide

Design guidelines are the preferred tool to guide development toward an overall vision for a community and to establish the project branding. The Canin team has been creating these guiding documents as part of the project planning process for decades.

A good set of design guidelines is essentially a kit of parts that gives developers, designers and builders the flexibility to create a wide range of solutions while still maintaining or enhancing the distinct character of the community as a whole. These documents should be created prior to any development commencing. Most municipalities have criteria to control future development such as land use and zoning standards and a broad vision for the community as a whole.

Increased interest in place-making and the quality of the built environment are driving more municipalities to require the development of design guidelines to provide details of design of the public realm, especially related to building architecture and landscape design as part of the approval process. Public sector plans typically operate at a high level of scale, so having comprehensive design guidelines provides a method for design management to influence the character and design of the built community.

Canin design guide 2

Well thought out community guidelines are focused on architectural character, lot configuration, streetscapes, and building materials with details on everything from window treatments to the color of pavers and the types of trees or vegetation each home should have. Design guidelines should not be overly prescriptive in architectural interpretation such as attempting to replicate vernacular design precedents.

By focusing on obtaining solutions that pay great attention to authentic design principles and elements, they allow flexibility for builders to create simple elegant designs with careful attention to scale, proportion and detail. The idea is to create a consistent good design context by using composition, hierarchy, scale, simplicity, symmetry, rhythm and balance. This also helps to foster a more diverse community that can be as attractive as the older neighborhoods that we all revere and love.

Canin design guide

Some of our new guidelines are focused on sustainable development techniques, including specifics for implementing a more native plant landscape environment. These documents place significant restrictions on the type and quantity of turf and go beyond the goals of the local water authority by requiring plant materials that require less water and pesticide control.

This effort also lists native plants that are under-utilized in typical residential landscapes and encourages a less manicured and a more natural look for that community.

Sustanee: Connecting Community in Nature

The Sustane Community Plan has evolved into a cutting edge model of sustainable planning and development. The plan is groundbreaking in that it is envisioned as a 5-generation plan that will sustain its residents for over 100 years. The site is connected to a 706-acre environmental preserve and is close to the University of Central Florida and the Central Florida Research Park. A “Smart Growth” opportunity is to link the neighborhoods to these job centers by e-bikes and pedestrian trails.

Sustanee is a community designed around the interface of people and nature in a new urbanist setting of walkability with 2-lane pedestrian-friendly roads and landscapes that are crafted for shaded walks. Each of the eight neighborhoods will have a variety of housing types organized around a one-acre park. In addition to the 8 central focal points, the community will also have a centralized 3-acre park for the enjoyment of residents and visitors.

Sustanee plan

The community is intentionally designed around the idea of resident education and active engagement with nature. A special feature of the plan is a commitment to building a Nature/ Education Center building called the Sustanee Community Education Center (SCEC) in the heart of the community. This facility will be open to the general public and will also function as a learning and social center for residents. The SCEC will offer educational programs and meeting events in partnership with the University of Florida, the Institute of Food and Agriculture (IFAS) and other interest groups.

Permanent funding is considered essential to enable the longterm objectives of learning, research and scholarship related to best management practices. To this end, the developer CHCG Land Services will create the Sustanee Foundation at an initial stage in the development. This nonprofit foundation will rely on a guaranteed income stream to sustain the programs in the community which will continue long after the last home is built at Sustanee.

Silverleaf: Structured for Success

The newest project for Sunterra Communities, Silverleaf, is located in the rapidly growing Horizon West area of west Orange County. The Canin Landscape Architecture studio has been providing design and permitting services for multiple phases of Silverleaf. The design features a landscape aesthetic which will blend with the neighboring Hamlin communities and still provide distinctive branding through the judicious use of silver leaved trees and a native planting palette. 

The landscape architecture team first designed a streetscape strategy and created a signage palette for the entire Silverleaf development. The entry features are designed with the existing aesthetic of the community but stand out due to the primary use of composite wood features and bold white accents. 

The first phase of development includes townhomes, a county public park, and two new school sites for Orange County public schools. The second phase of development includes approximately 320 residential lots that are adjacent to conservation lands. Within the second phase, the Canin team designed multiple community park sites, regional trails, and a primary amenity site for the community. Construction has just begun on the first phase of the Silverleaf project and future phases will include multiple residential neighborhoods, a public park, and a mixed-use commercial center along Avalon Road.

Star Power: A New Afrotainment Studio

Canin Associates’ Architecture Studio has had the opportunity to work on a studio remodel design for Afrotainment. Located on International Drive, the television studio is 30,000 square feet.

Afrotainment Studio

The existing building lacked character so Canin proposed expanding the center of the existing facade and incorporating a marquee sign above the building entrance. The interior of the building becomes part of the facade with glass windows that allow a series of posters to be viewed from the exterior of the building. The interior of the building contains a theater, offices, and studio spaces. The remodel of this building creates a fully equipped space for Afrotainment to produce high-quality content.

Creative Couples: Bryn Mawr Attached Duplexes

Working within the City of Orlando’s strict site development standards for R-2 zoning on two infill lots in College Park, Canin Associates is completing construction documents for four new innovative 1,450 sq. ft., two-story duplex plans that live large with private rear-yard courtyards.

Bryn Mawr Duplex

Vegetation in the courtyards helps to divide the hardscape and provides a connection to nature for the homeowners overlooking the space. The duplexes are designed in both traditional and modern styles, and the entrances to the duplexes are on opposite sides of each other, making them feel like independent homes. The two-story duplexes have a one-car garage, first-floor master bedroom, and two additional bedrooms upstairs.

Envisioning a New Direction for Orange County

Orange County (including its cities) is expected to grow in population by almost 50% over the next 30 years. To meet his future, Vision 2050 represents a significant rethinking of the County’s approach to growth and land development.

Orange County Map

Over the last few months, our team has assisted with the public roll-out of Vision 2050 through a series of Virtual Town Halls, which provided the public an opportunity to learn about and contribute to this developing plan for the future of the County.

The new approach is intended to support multi-modal transportation, encourage redevelopment, and provide a greater range of housing options for current and future County residents. The Town Halls focused on Canin Associates’ work, with our teammates at DPZ CoDesign to rethink the County’s zoning code and develop policies to support the Vision.

The Hills: A New Community Rising in Minneola

The Landscape Studio has been hard at work in collaboration with Sunterra Communities in bringing a new community in Minneola to life. The project initially called the Hills of Minneola, is currently under construction both north and south of the Hancock Road interchange on Florida’s Turnpike. 

The Hills Park Plan

Our team has helped create the overall design character, design guidelines and construction documents for multiple phases of the project including the commercial area and Citrus Grove Road that includes two roundabouts. The design character is inspired by the rolling hills of the area with undulating walls and sculptural elements. The streetscapes and parks have a mostly native palette highlighted by native ground covers and canopy trees. 

Harmonious Collaboration for Creating Community

Building on the success of the Harmony community in Osceola County, our team is now collaborating with the developer, Forestar on building Harmony West. The overall site is just north and west of the original development and eventually will complete the community on the north side of Buck Lake. The Canin Architecture and Landscape Studios have been engaged to provide signage, landscape design, and architectural design services for what will be a new 1,800 unit addition to the community of Harmony. 

Harmony West Amenities

Some of the first design efforts include the streetscape and signage design on Botanic Boulevard which will connect the community from Irlo Bronson Highway to Old Melbourne Highway. The Landscape design features a comfortable walking trail and multiple signage features to identify each neighborhood along the way. The brand new “third place” amenity is also a part of this effort. Construction has just started on this new community facility that will feature a pool and clubhouse designed by our combined studios. The Architecture Studio’s 6.500 square foot clubhouse will have a fitness center, a covered lanai, and a community room that opens to a screened “Florida Room” that features a catering kitchen and ample shaded outdoor seating. The building is designed in a farmhouse style that incorporated modern and rustic elements. 

The Landscape Studio’s focus on the outdoor recreation needs of community inspired a plan that features a large community “front lawn” for multi-purpose play. The 5,000 square foot resort style pool is complemented by a splash pad family area for additional wet play activities. Other elements of the site include a playground area, picnic pavilion, shade sails, walking trail, sand volleyball courts, and a lake side pavilion with an overlook deck on the canal. The plant palette is all Florida Friendly and meets the Toho Water Authority Water Star criteria for design and maintenance. Collaborating with the Forestar and internally, the Canin team has created a people place that will be enjoyed by all of Harmony West’s future residents. 


Housing for all

Our region, like many others in the nation, is grappling with a significant housing affordability crisis. The Housing for All Task Force is one initiative that our community leaders in both the government and the private sector are working on together to help address the issue. At Canin Associates, our team has been focused on providing leadership in this area for over 10 years. We have been designing homes that are more affordable without sacrificing quality and livability. We are now pleased to introduce a series of house plans that have been tested in the market and adopted by public agencies such as the City of Orlando and the Orlando Community Redevelopment Agency.

These plans are construction ready and are available for purchase. They also fall within the recommended price range identified in the Housing for All Task Force study. They can be utilized in multiple scenarios for infill, replacement or new housing developments. These homes offer a range of square footages from 1,520 square feet to 2,300 square feet, with a variety of appealing facades that will help create a unique contemporary character in any neighborhood.

4 Plex Townhome

product size – 1,520 sq. ft.
unit size – 22′ x 50′
layout – 3 bed / 2 bath


Small Lot Single Family Cottage

product size – 1,526 sq. ft.
unit size – 40′ x 85′
layout – 3-4 bed / 2.5 bath

Small Lot Single Family Cottage

product size – 1,576 sq. ft.
unit size – 42.5′ x 92′
layout – 3 bed / 2.5 bath

Small Lot Single Family Cottage

product size –
1,782 / 2,056 sq. ft.
unit size – 30′ x 62′
layout – 3-4 bed / 2.5 bath

Single Family Home

product size –
1,864 / 2,050 sq. ft.
unit size – 60′ x 66′
layout – 3 bed / 2.5 bath

Outdoor Living Products

The Architecture Studio is excited to be designing a new headquarters for Outdoor Living Products, a company that specializes in treated lumber production and outdoor recreation products. This multi-faceted project is anchored by a showroom building that incorporates a few of the company’s product offerings into its dramatic façade design. The showroom building also houses the sales offices, production staff offices, informal work space, and an employee lounge. A large storage warehouse and an iconic two-level product showcase dock compliment the showroom building and complete the project site.

Mills 50 And The Milk District

Bicycle & Pedestrian Improvement Study

Mills 50 and the Milk District are two popular business districts that are part of the City of Orlando’s Main Streets Program. Both are located in Orlando’s Traditional City which is the portion of the city built before World War II. As a result, they have the characteristics of historic areas that are generally supportive of walking and biking including connected street networks, buildings located close to the sidewalk, and old growth tree cover in adjacent residential areas. With more people walking and biking to shops, restaurants, and bars in these areas, the City of Orlando is seeking to improve the safety of its citizens and the success of local businesses by making these active transportation options safer and more comfortable.

orlando bicycle study

Canin Associates joined an HDR-led team tasked with identifying near-term solutions for improving active transportation and placemaking in the districts. Through stakeholder engagement, the team learned that both districts were concerned about safety, convenience, comfort, and connectivity of travel and the attractiveness of their corridors with different levels of emphasis based on differences in existing conditions and community values. Proposed improvements were developed through collaborative on-site workshops to develop concepts that met the City’s and stakeholder’s goals. We employed our team’s local knowledge of bicycling conditions to provide site-specific recommendations on bicycle routing and connectivity. Proposals include new crosswalks and traffic signals, off-street bicycle paths, streetscaping improvements, and right-sizing of underutilized roadways.

See the full study at:

North Quarter

Today, more people are choosing to live in or near downtown. The North Quarter is a mixed-use area of downtown Orlando north of Colonial Drive.

2018 Landscape Trends in Community Amenities

Whether you are designing a new community amenity or expanding or renovating an existing amenity, we are all striving to create meaningful places with lasting value. At Canin Associates, we focus on planning and designing great people places. Placemaking creates value in amenity design and landscape design is a huge aspect in placemaking. Designing well-amenitized landscapes provides venues for a variety of experiences and active and passive recreation.

Here are some community design trends we are exploring for 2018 that will help enhance your amenity design.

Water/Food/Play – Making Connections

All great amenities should provide the basics of a pool, some type of food service or cooking equipment and spaces for play. Connecting the dots between these elements is a trend we are seeing. Water-ready table games in the pool, water basketball and volleyball, outdoor kitchens on the pool deck, and age-inclusive splash pads are all trending features that incorporate these elements in creative ways.

Go Beyond the Shopping List

It’s a perennial question for builders and developers: What’s new and trending in amenities? It’s important in the planning stages to take time to think beyond a typical list of amenity elements and consider activities that may be more targeted to your specific project context or anticipated residents. Active items like Pump Tracks are augmenting trail systems for bike experiences. Outdoor fitness circuits and parkour equipment are capitalizing on the Ninja Warrior / Adventure Racing trend. Manufacturers of play equipment are now providing a variety of high quality, internet-linked outdoor fitness equipment.

Other innovative amenities include adding climate-controlled greenhouses for residents where gardening classes can be held. Incorporating art is an important element of placemaking and many communities are providing sculpture in the landscape and even promoting local artists in exterior sculpture garden galleries.

Focus on the Details

Attention to detail is crucial and given the high value placed on creative placemaking in today’s urban designs, it’s no surprise that there are numerous companies pushing the envelope with new materials, lighting and other landscape infrastructure products. In the material world, we are seeing more and more porcelain tile being used as a long term substitute for pavers and stones. Simulated wood remains a very popular aesthetic. Paver companies are continually pushing flexibility with new specialty colors, sizes and aggregate materials for a huge variety of treatments. Many projects are mixing paving techniques for an even larger variety of hardscape combinations.

Innovative for pool construction techniques and materials are available. Cushioned pool floors are a welcome advancement in fitness pools. New stainless steel construction techniques are providing long term viability with flexibility in shape and very creative coping solutions.

Electrical infrastructure for lighting and technology are a must. Lighting options have significantly advanced beyond just LED’s and combining lighting with musical systems are becoming more popular as controls have moved to your tablet. Options for music and show lighting are particularly popular in amenities that feature evening entertainment. Festoon lighting remains highly popular with a variety of commercial construction systems available for long lasting appeal. Internet technology is a must and for 2018, we are seeing builders and developers devote significant time during the planning process to adequately evaluate the network system requirements and plan for long term management. Some developers are moving away from providing Wifi and making deals with providers to move directly into the 5g IoT market. Creatively designed equipment is lacking, but look for a new emphasis on aesthetics in 2018.

Engaging Spaces

Active spaces are important, but spaces that engage the senses is a new goal. Taking a page from resort design, new amenities are creating immersive spaces that compel the user to return again and again. Many developers recognize that utilizing the rooftop can create a unique community experience and new construction techniques do not obstruct sound water and infrastructure management on the rooftop. Bars, pergolas, kitchens, dining and relaxation are all part of the programmable rooftop. A well thought out community takes advantage of every space, even the spaces left between. Even little spaces can have a big impact when design is given a priority. Add benches, hardscape, color, shade and maybe a grill and you have a community gathering spot in what used to be a simple lawn. New community amenities in 2018 should take advantage of every opportunity, both big and small.

Landscapes that Work

Trails and trail systems remain hugely popular in communities building. Developers are adding value by providing fitness opportunities, tracking and markings along with a hierarchical system that includes comfortable streetscapes for bikers and walkers. Planning for a full trail system up front is crucial. Comfort in the landscape is also critical and inspired shade systems are a necessity. Whether it’s a unique perforated metal structure or a tablet driven operable shade pergola that tracks the sun, look for more creative shade techniques in 2018. Along with creative shade, there is a myriad of options for creatively designed fire pits and inspired furniture choices that are colorful, flexible, durable and contemporary.

Along with exterior athletic equipment advances, builders and developers are recognizing the importance of a wise investment in quality play equipment. Play equipment quickly becomes a liability if it doesn’t work or if maintenance is required too often. Sound choices in quality play equipment are available and manufacturers recognize the need for long term durability. More and more creative play options are available as manufacturers provide customizable components and design assistance for parks and play spaces.

Waterwise landscape is not just a trend, it is being regulated by jurisdictions intent on conserving water and providing a more sustainable landscape. Builders and developers will continue the trend for waterwise landscape design to comply with jurisdictional requirements but also for long term maintenance and replacement value.

Recent landscape architecture trends have highlighted infrastructure as art. We could see more of this in 2018. The trend will show up in custom site furniture integrated in the landscape, benches and signage with interactive Wifi, and contemporary designs for age old landscape elements like fire hydrants. Every opportunity to be innovative and creative with infrastructure adds to the character, enhancing the amenity and therefore the community.

Contact Greg Witherspoon in our Landscape Architecture Studio to see more on Landscape Design Trends for 2018.

A Vision for Mercy Drive


Hidden behind the Central Florida Fairgrounds and nestled between College Park and Pine Hills, Mercy Drive is a predominantly African-American community with a unique mix of single family neighborhoods and a variety of large and small apartment complexes housing moderate and low-income families. Additional pockets of commercial, industrial, and institutional development are scattered along its main street, Mercy Drive, as well as some recreational uses such as the City of Orlando owned and operated Northwest Community Center.

The community has had its challenges, ranging from traffic concerns to the closure of several poorly maintained apartment complexes that are now in City ownership. Limited transportation connections in the area make Mercy Drive a popular cut through, especially for freight truck traffic from the nearby industrial properties.

Recognizing the need for a unified visioning approach, and under the leadership of Commissioner Regina Hill, the City retained Canin Associates to work with the residents and stakeholders to create a forward-looking Vision Plan to improve the community’s quality of life and bring out residents’ talents to build a better future for their families and their community.

“A safe, attractive, and connected community with quality homes and apartments that empowers neighbors of all ages to learn, build, and create together.”
-Mercy Drive Vision Statement

The visioning process kicked off with over 100 residents and stakeholders in attendance at the first of three public meetings to be held within the community at the Northwest Community Center. After analyzing the information gathered from the first meeting as well as from an area-wide walking audit, expert interviews, and a housing conditions assessment, a second public meeting was held to present a vision statement as well as physical design and community building concepts. Residents and stakeholders then voted on which of the concepts they thought were most appropriate for their community’s future.


The design concept that received the most votes was a multi-use neighborhood center that provides public gathering space along with new commercial and small business opportunities. Streetscape enhancements to help mitigate traffic issues, improve walking and biking, and provide community gateway features came in a close second place along with ideas for new higher density single-family housing opportunities on a couple of City-owned parcels.

The community building programs that received the most votes were focused mainly on home maintenance, such as a tool lending library and home repair classes, as well as increasing community-wide events, some of which could even include partnering with the Orlando Police Department.

With the community’s priorities determined, a vision report was produced that will help guide both public and private investment for current and future Mercy Drive residents. The executive summary of this report was distributed during the third and final public meeting, which was in the form of a community resource fair. This final meeting brought multiple city departments, third party organizations, and more into the Northwest Community Center to engage with residents and stakeholders, and to help begin the process of realizing their community’s new vision.

Canin Associates is proud to have partnered with the City of Orlando and Mercy Drive residents and stakeholders in developing the vision for their future. We look forward to what will be coming next for this high-potential community!

Visit the City of Orlando’s project page for access to the final vision report documents and additional information.

2018 Outlook: Home Design Trends



Looking toward 2018, I thought it would be interesting to first look back a decade to see what was trending in home design in 2008, at the start of the Great Recession. The economy, jobs, wages, and the size of homes were all contracting. Home sizes, like companies, were “downsizing”. Before the crash, normal floor plans with spaces like Great Rooms, Cafés (or Breakfast Nooks), and formal Living and Dining Rooms had become smartly condensed into “Everyday Living” spaces with an open kitchen. Tubs in shrinking Master Bathrooms were removed to accommodate larger showers. These floor plan trends began to stick back then and are still preferred by most buyers today.

Over the past 10 years the pendulum has started to swing back, with plans starting to slowly grow larger again. Space gained through consolidation has translated to larger Kitchens, Outdoor Living Areas, Walk-In Closets, and Storage. Evolving plan drivers are more focused on enhancing the living experience within the home. Here’s a look forward at new design trends progressing into next year.



Buyers are spending more time outdoors, enjoying time with family and friends. Covered outdoor living spaces today are designed the way we design interior living rooms, with comfortable outdoor furniture and TVs. Some include gas fireplaces, outdoor bars, grills for cooking, and dining areas. 2018 trends include painting the color of the exterior living space walls the same color as the interior, not the color of the siding, and also extending the flooring from the inside to the outside. Eliminate the barrier between the indoors and outdoors with large, pocketing sliding glass or folding doors. Buyers love the openness of the two spaces, and they perceive the combined usable spaces as higher value.




Buyers still prefer large kitchen islands, especially with seating. But now that Kitchens are open to the Everyday Living spaces, countertop clutter needs to be hidden. Buyers love to show off their high-tech appliances, but not the coffee maker, can opener, blender, etc. So next year our floor plans are including “Sculleries” or “Small Appliance Pantries”. They replace the same space Butler Pantries used to and provide extra countertop preparation space and cabinet storage too.







Storage ranks high on buyers preference surveys. In new floor plans, we provide small signature spaces for buyers to use as they please. Only utilizing 48-64 square feet, or 6’x8’ to 8’x8’, these small spaces can be used for a hobby room, luggage storage, wine room/cellar, home tech closet, shopping club storage, pet suite, or any other use a homeowner can imagine.






Who would want to buy a new home with a tight, cramped, and undersized laundry room? Or have no place to store the vacuum or Swiffer? Buyers love the expanded functional space of Domestic Suites, especially when they are conveniently connected to a Master Closet for easy access. The Domestic Suite should have enough counter space to the left of the washer/dryer to sort clothes and countertops to the right for folding and ironing. It should also provide a clothes rod for “delicates” to air dry. In your suite, include a broom and vacuum closet with an outlet for recharging; include shelves for household cleaners. Use the extra cabinetry in the room for extra household storage (batteries, flashlights, tape, scissors, lightbulbs, etc.), and use the wall space for dry goods shelving. There is an opportunity to impress buyers if the room can be made large enough for a small work island or hobby desk. The Domestic Suite can also double as a Pet Suite. Well-designed and planned utility spaces add tremendous value to the home and they can be scaled for all home sizes.




Formal Living Rooms were once seldom used, however new floor plans have evolved by changing the Living Room into a “Flex” room. Buyers now have the option of making these spaces home offices, as the trend over the past decade shows more people are working at home. Flex Rooms are still a 2018 trend, which gives buyers the option to “office” somewhere else in the house and use the flex room as an office or a Guest Bedroom.

A home office does not necessarily have to be in the default location in front of the house. Often the homeowner benefits from a more private location, out of view from guests. 2018 trends include smaller home offices, called Pocket Offices, because bookcases, file cabinets, and bulky PCs are no longer needed. With laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices, a desk in a small space is sufficient for a printer, router, and basic office needs. These small spaces often hide the “clutter” with barn doors.



Small, detached retreat spaces are a new thing. Modest and remote “getaway” spaces are perfect for that small work-at-home space, a playroom for kids, a media room, a hobby room, or any other use. You do not need to program this space, buyers will do it for you!




96% of Americans shop online, and the majority of those shoppers prefer doing so to save time and avoid crowds. Look at the success of Amazon and how it is changing retail. Wal-Mart is competing, meal delivery programs are consistently becoming popular (Blue Apron and HelloFresh), and prescriptions can now be delivered right to your door. Most people seem uncomfortable by Amazon Key, Amazon’s new electronic feature that temporarily unlocks your door for the delivery to be placed in your home and then locks the door again when the delivery driver leaves, all while you watch from a security camera. However, there is a better way to guard against “porch pirates”. As a safer solution, with just a little extra wall width, a wall-mounted package drop vault ($440) can be installed on a front porch or near the foyer.




There is not enough space in this article to go into all the exciting new things for 2018, but technology is certainly making an impact on every aspect of design and construction. As technology continues to grow and influence everyday lifestyles, it will provide us with more modern conveniences and spaces to enjoy with family and friends for the next decade to come.

Download the full PDF: Design Trends 2018

Courtyards in Mexico: More than an architectural feature

Canin Associates Fall Studio Sponsorship at the University of Miami

The group walking the streets of San Miguel de Allende


This Fall, Canin Associates sponsored an upper-level research design studio at the University of Miami to study “Courtyard Housing.” The focus was around the history, theory, practice, and technology of courtyard houses in three cities in Mexico. The aim of the project is to translate the design principles of courtyard housing and apply them to a master plan in Florida and then develop appropriate architectural typologies for the community.

Each student was provided an opportunity to study notable courtyard examples from around the world, including some by famous architects and designers including Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and OMA. Most of the studio then had the opportunity to travel to Mexico and tour three of the most important “Magic Towns,” or “Pueblos Magicos,” in the center of Mexico: Guanajuato, Santiago de Queretaro, and San Miguel de Allende. Canin Associates’ President, Brian Canin, traveled with the group. Each city provided excellent examples of courtyards with a variety of topographic conditions, materials, vegetation and scale. The students had the opportunity to document both public and private buildings with shared typologies and plazas. Each courtyard and plaza exhibited powerful placemaking design techniques. The site  chosen for the implementation of the master plan is  in Homestead, Florida, which is home to many seasonal Mexican migrants. The six block,  95-acre site will be planned to accommodate this population using courtyard designs.


San Miguel de Allende courtyard space


Each student will design a “Mexican Enclave” with an elaboration of one section of the plan containing all proposed building types, including facades, sections, plans, physical models, and perspective views. The final presentation will take place on December 11th at the School of Architecture at the University of Miami with Brian Canin in attendance. The Canin Associates team is looking forward to seeing the final designs so look out for a follow-up post later next month!

Queretaro tree-lined public courtyard


Brian Canin Inducted into the College of Fellows of the (AICP)

Canin Associates is thrilled to announce that its founder and president, Brian Canin, has been inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Headshot_BCaninThe AICP is the American Planning Association’s professional body which works with urban planners around the country to promote certification, ethical planning, professional development, and standards of practice. Induction into the AICP College of Fellows represents the organization’s highest honor. It is an award given to those whose careers have achieved the highest levels of professional practice, teaching, mentoring, research, public service, and leadership.

Brian Canin is an architect and urban planner, researcher, and leader with over 40 years of diverse community building and placemaking experience. With more than 100,000 residents living in Canin-designed projects, his work has had a profound impact on Florida’s built environment. He has also worked in 14 countries outside the US. Both locally and internationally, Brian has been a champion of traditional neighborhood design and smart growth. Throughout his career, he has acted as a trusted resource for regional planning efforts in Central Florida.

The Class of 2016 will be inducted into the AICP College of Fellows on April 3rd during the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference in Phoenix.

Our 5 Top Posts of 2015

Happy New Year! Like most of you, we hit the ground running in what is sure to be a busy and exciting 2016. Nonetheless, we want to take a quick look back at some of our favorite posts from the past year. From streetcars in Atlanta to architecture in Lima, we took a look at mobility, buildings styles, and a new way to approach single-family homes.

Bike Lanes - Pros and ConsBike Lanes or No Bike Lanes: A False Dichotomy?

In many cities, a false dichotomy has dominated recent conversations around cycling: Should bicycle-riders travel on their own specialized networks of bike lanes or should they ride on any road alongside automobiles?




Saarbrücken SidewalkA Connectivity Case Study in Saarbrücken, Germany

Like most German cities, Saarbrücken’s core is a mix of walkable streets, urban buildings, and historic sites. Despite this, city leaders and residents are concerned about the future connectivity, mobility, and livability of their city.




Peru - Cusco - ArchitectureThree Architectural Periods in Peru

Peru as a country boasts a mix of cultures, climates, and architecture. What makes it an incredible place to visit is that modern Peru seamlessly blends together its diverse history.





Single-Family Homes in an Urban EnvironmentSingle-Family Can Be Urban, Too

American housing design is in need of a paradigm shift. Recognizing generational preferences, increasing affordability constraints, and sustainable solutions are needed to start a new chapter in the planning of our cities, especially when it comes to housing. But that doesn’t mean the single-family home is dead.




streetcar_implementation_atlantaImplementing Streetcars: Lessons from Atlanta

The streetcar fits a unique niche in our transportation system different from bus or light rail. It’s often described as an extension of the walking environment thanks to its ability to be used for short trips, while still connecting different neighborhoods within a city. However, as recent streetcar projects like the Downtown Loop in Atlanta have shown, their success requires patience.


Bike Lanes or No Bike Lanes: A False Dichotomy?

Bike Lanes - Pros and Cons

In many cities, a false dichotomy has dominated recent conversations around cycling: Should bicycle-riders travel on their own specialized networks of bike lanes or should they ride on any road alongside automobiles? Across the United States, the bike lane (or “pro-facilities”) crowd is winning. In some cities, however, a vocal minority of “vehicular cyclists” blocks construction efforts while focusing on education. When we look more closely at the issue, it’s easy to see that the answer isn’t always one or the other.

A Discussion of Context


Both sides of the bike lane discussion have reasonable concerns. The pro-lane crowd cites statistics showing that bike lanes increase both safety and participation across a wide range of demographics. The vehicular cyclists argue that bike lanes, often poorly designed or maintained, reinforce the cultural message that the car is king of the road and can put riders in dangerous situations. Dead-end bike lanes, door zones, and the inability to turn left are a just a few of the very real concerns raised by those skeptical of bike lanes. What is often lacking from these all-or-nothing conversations is a real discussion of context and design. Similarly to how New Urbanists have argued for contextual road design, we need a contextual approach to welcoming bicycles and their riders both in the most urban and more suburban contexts and in the connections between them. These solutions should also take a city’s existing conditions into consideration, which often include poor urban design.


Many urban design improvements can make biking safer with or without bike lanes. Reducing the number of driveways makes bike lanes considerably safer. Using quality urban design to reduce speeds on local streets makes biking safer with or without bike lanes. On the other hand, one of the common elements championed by Urbanists, the addition of on-street parking, can create “door zones” in bike lanes and narrow streets. In my less-informed days, I was “doored” on a quiet side street (without a bike lane). I was riding too close to parked cars in an effort to be polite to non-existent cars behind me, and the driver of a recently parked convertible opened his driver-side door directly in my path. Shocked and confused I looked around to see shattered glass and concerned onlookers. The driver seemed as surprised and confused as I was. Fortunately I was not going fast and walked away with minor scratches and bruises on my arms and ego. However, I’ve never looked at door-side bike lanes quite the same again.


Bike Lane (Protected) in San Francisco


For me the lesson was multi-fold. The most obvious result was to bring home the fact that “door-ing” is a real risk and should be considered in bike lane design. However, this street didn’t have a bike lane. So even a good design can’t replace education about how to ride safely. Education also ties into the issue of culture. We need a supportive culture to help people make good decisions when they ride and not based on fear of getting negative attention from people driving cars.


Over the next few months, I’ll go through some specific example of how good principles of urbanism can contribute to bike safety with and without bike lanes. These include slow, connected street grids, bicycle boulevards, general urban design improvements, and appropriate context for higher or lower intensity styles of bike lanes, paths, tracks, or lack thereof.



Lake Flores Brings New Urbanism to Southwest Florida

“A positive example of change,” “the right development at the right time,” and “a life-preserver” were just a few of the positive comments heard during August’s Manatee County Commission meeting to review the Lake Flores project. At the meeting, Commissioners unanimously approved the initial development plan for Lake Flores.


Lake Flores Manatee County Florida Development


As a result, over 1,300 acres of farmland surrounded by existing suburban development in west Manatee County will come back to life as the mixed-use residential infill community of Lake Flores. “This is the best thing since Lakewood Ranch,” said one of the participants at the meeting, unknowingly citing another project in Manatee County designed by Canin Associates. Begun in 1995, Lakewood Ranch is a successful 17,500-acre master-planned community.


The heart of Lake Flores will be the 19-acre namesake lake and its surrounding urban park. Interlaced with these greenspaces are community areas, events spaces, and a new Main Street that will be home to restaurants, shops, and entertainment. During its 20-year buildout, Lake Flores is set to grow into bustling, walkable neighborhoods with 6,500 residential units, 3 million square feet of commercial and retail space, and 500 hotel rooms.




As a true mixed-use community, Lake Flores will offer a variety of housing options and a transportation system that supports a diversity of users. Apartments overlooking Lake Flores will create a peaceful yet urban residential option for young professionals while master-planned neighborhoods will focus on innovative single-family housing types. Meanwhile, the streets and multi-use trail system will move more than cars: people on foot, on bike, and in small electric vehicles will be able to explore Lake Flores conveniently and safely.


“From an economic standpoint, this is very positive for Manatee County and the area,” Lake Flores property owner and lifelong area resident Whiting Preston told the Bradenton Herald. Not only will the development attract newcomers to the area, but current residents—especially young adults looking to buy their first homes—will be able to stay in Bradenton due to the array of housing choices. This notion is underscored by two distinct business centers which will promote job growth in the commercial, research, and development sectors.




Lake Flores is poised to reignite Bradenton and west Manatee County as a very special place to live. As an infill community, Lake Flores will provide housing and retail/office space in a location where it is needed. As a mixed-use, traditional neighborhood, Lake Flores will grow into a walkable, New Urban addition to the region that will be attractive to Millennials, families, and retirees.



ULI Central Florida: Visionaries Discuss the M-Factor

Last week, I had the chance to attend ULI Central Florida’s signature YLG event A Night with Visionaries of Central Florida: The M-Factor. Hosted by the Young Leaders groups from ULI Central Florida, CREW Orlando, and NAIOP Central Florida, this latest edition provided a platform for visionaries and young professionals to discuss the impact Millennials are having on a wide array of real-estate-related fields.


ULI Event Recap


The program consisted of a series of roundtable discussions with some of Central Florida’s most influential leaders. During each seven-minute segment, a new visionary shared valuable insights within the areas of urban planning, development, philanthropy, healthcare, education, sports and entertainment, law, architecture, and technology. Proceeds from the event directly supported US Hunger. The group of Visionaries, and some of their observations on Millennials, included:

Don Campbell, Founder, US Hunger

“Social media is a powerful tool that Millennials respond to, but it doesn’t necessarily get them out to volunteer. We find that it’s our great work culture that’s attracting more interns in a world where volunteering is decreasing.”

Carlos Carbonell, CEO, Echo Interaction Group

“You don’t have to be a programmer to start a tech company—you can leverage that excitement and solve other problems through technology.”


Pauline Eaton, Main Street Coordinator, City of Orlando

“Millennials are looking for communities that have an authentic, unique identity.”

David Harrison, Professor of Real Estate, University of Central Florida

“In our program, we’re actively reaching out to find out how to improve our education, both in real estate and in tangent fields.”

Ken LaRoe, CEO & Chairman, First Green Bank

“We’re the first values-based financial institution on the East Coast. Millennials are drawn to organizations with a values-driven mission and sustainable practices.”

Leila Jammal Nodarse, Senior Principal, Terracon

“Millennials want to feel like they can bring ideas forward, especially ideas that support community.”



John Rife, Owner, East End Market

“Millennials are interested in authentic projects that meet area-specific needs and are not franchised. Through social media, pop-ups as precursors, and flex spaces, we can let demand shape those projects.”

David Stone, Director of Architectural Services, Phil Kean Design Group

“Being involved in professional organizations helped me make connections offline and online that led to connecting with and working for Phil Kean.”

Joshua Wallack, COO of Mango’s Tropical Café and Managing Principal at Skyplex

“In Orlando, your project needs enough power to rise above the noise to compete with what’s already out there—and to attract part of the 62 million visitors as well as the local market.”

Jim Zboril, President, Tavistock Development Group

“At Lake Nona, we’re attracting Millennials by expanding the variety of housing products, including Canin Associates’ Jewel Box homes, that meet the needs of young buyers while providing a lower price of entry.”


Photos by Chris Gotshall Photography


Indoor-Outdoor Design: Tips and Trends

Fall is here, and for Florida and much of the South that means it’s time to take life outside. From barbecues to relaxing by the pool, our backyards, porches, and decks become an extension of our home. While not all indoor-outdoor spaces are created equal, implementing smart design elements can quickly maximize the backyard of your new home or next remodel project.

A great example of a high-performing indoor-outdoor space is our Palazzo Lago home in Windermere, Florida (pictured below). The home was the winner of the Grand Award – Custom Home in the 2013 Orlando Parade of Homes and Orlando Life magazine’s 2013 Home of the Year runner-up. Palazzo Lago was also featured in the August 2015 edition of Hearth & Home in the articles “Trends in the Outdoor Room” and “Seamless Indoor-Outdoor Living.” Here are a few ways we make sure a backyard functions as a great living space:


Indoor-Outdoor Living Trends


A Smooth Indoor-Outdoor Transition

To create a seamless indoor-outdoor space, a covered hard roof area is essential. Incorporating a portion of your deck or patio under a hard roof will offer functional relief from sun and drain and will also serve as a transition space from inside to outside.

Don’t think of the outdoors as a separate part of your home. Rather, blend it further with the indoors by minimizing the visual and physical barriers between the two. Many homeowners are replacing their aluminum sliding glass doors with folding glass doors. These doors open all the way to maximize the sense of openness. This easily accessible area can now become an outdoor living room with cushioned furnishings, ceiling fans, and intentional lighting. As such, plan your covered patio or lanai large enough to comfortably fit an outdoor furniture arrangement.


Palazzo Lago Custom Home - Porch


A Resort-Style Pool in Your Own Backyard

In recent years, residential pool construction trends have aimed at adding a resort feel to pools. Spillover spas, fountain jets, and waterfalls are today’s slides and diving boards of years past. Additionally, attention is paid as much to the layout of the surrounding deck space as to the water itself. For example, deck size is key. The target deck-to-water ratio should be 3:1. Also, plan your furniture layout ahead of time to make sure the space works how you envisioned it.

Any pool that transitions from kid time to adult time needs ample storage. Avoid clutter by providing adequate storage space for toys, towels, and cleaning equipment. The size of storage required can vary depending on the number and age of pool users, and how much of the pool maintenance you intend to do yourself. An exterior 4′ x 4′ storage closet, for example, will allow you to conceal unattractive items and secure chemicals.


Indoor-Outdoor Pool and Patio Renovation Orlando FL

Courtyard Comebacks

Backyards aren’t the only space you have for outdoor enjoyment. In some cases, a private, open courtyard can be a great place for a relaxing getaway. Even courtyards as small as 8′ x 8′ provide an intimate al fresco experience. Courtyards can be placed off the master bedroom, in a side yard, or even under a large tree in the front yard. Enhance your courtyard with a wood trellis and a vine, colorful aromatic plants, or a water feature for soothing background sounds. During the cooler months, invite friends into your courtyard as a place to chat over a fire pit, or use it as a romantic place for two.



A Connectivity Case Study in Saarbrücken, Germany

Saarbrücken is a German city along the French border with a population of around 176,000 residents. Like most German cities, Saarbrücken’s core is a mix of walkable streets, urban buildings, and historic sites. Despite this, city leaders and residents are concerned about the future connectivity, mobility, and livability of their city.




A recent article in the local newspaper appeared under the title “Without Resolve There Is No Future,” lamenting the automobile’s takeover of the city in recent decades and the lack of planning for the future. Now, for the average American city, the article’s commuter statistics would be a dream: 4% ride bikes, 11% carpool, 17% use public transportation, 23% walk, and 45% drive to work alone. In contrast, over 75% of Americans drove to work alone in 2013. For a comparison, Saarbrücken’s numbers are similar to much larger American cities like Philadelphia or Seattle.


Now leaders are engaging citizens to create a 2030 Transportation Plan. The plan will cover six major goals, including fostering sustainability through public transit and cycling, accessibility, livable streets, and safety. But this isn’t the city’s first initiative to create a more livable city. Here are five ways Saarbrücken has been promoting connectivity in the past two decades:


1. The Pedestrian is [Becoming] King


Saarbrücken’s main commercial corridor, the Bahnhofstraße, saw multiple incarnations in the past century. Bustling dirt roads with horse-drawn carriages gave way to streetcars in the 1890s. Then, after a nearly complete destruction during World War II, Saarbrücken’s main drag slowly reemerged in the 1950s and ’60s. But shiny new buildings weren’t the only difference along the Bahnhofstraße. By 1965, cars and diesel busses had completely replaced the extensive network of streetcars. For the next 30 years, the Bahnhofstraße looked like many American cities’ main streets: narrow sidewalks, angled parking, and a constant stream of cars.


Bahnhofstraße, Saarbrücken, Germany


A big shift came in the 1990s with the first pedestrianization efforts. Today, the entire length of Saarbrücken’s Bahnhofstraße (about one mile) is reserved solely for pedestrians. This effort continues today, with many side streets being converted into Woonerf-like pedestrian- and bike-friendly environments.


Woonerf, Saarbrücken, Germany


2. An International Streetcar


Although Saarbrücken’s streetcar system closed down in 1965, the Saarbahn revived the former Line 5 in 1997 as Line S1 and has seen multiple extensions since then. Today, this “regional streetcar” serves 40,000 riders per day at 43 stations and runs over 27 miles through Saarbrücken and various smaller cities. The core is served at 7.5-minute intervals, while farther out neighborhoods and towns are served in 15-, 30-, and 60-minute intervals. What makes the Saarbahn special is that its last stop, Sarreguemines, lies in France, making it not only a regional but also an international streetcar.


Saarbahn, Saarbrücken, Germany


3. Bike Parking


While only 4% of Saarbrücken commutes by bike, bike parking can be found throughout the city. With a goal of getting at least 10% of commuters on bikes in the next few years, bike parking and cycle tracks are a major part of future transportation plans.


Bike Parking, Germany


4. A Multi-Modal Waterfront


While the Saar river is the namesake for, well, just about everything in Saarbrücken, the riverfront itself seems to have been an afterthought in the Bahnhofstraße renovations of the 1950s and ’60s. That changed in the past year, however, with the project Stadtmitte am Fluss, or City Center on the River. With updated lighting, renovated storefronts, upgraded accessibility, and new greenspaces, the city hoped to activate a neglected portion of its downtown waterfront.


Stadtmitte am Fluss, Saarbrücken, Germany


While the project was met with skepticism over costs and necessity, it was completed successfully and has brought new life–and connectivity–to the city’s core. An improved multi-modal trail connects existing riverside paths for a great walking and biking network.


Stadtmitte am Fluss Trail, Saarbrücken, Germany


5. Saarbrücken: A City to Explore on Foot


With all the pedestrian streets mentioned above, it’s no surprise that 23% of Saarbrückers commute on foot and that the streets are always filled with shoppers. Smaller initiatives, however, have played a big role in getting people out of their cars. For example, sidewalks have been widened, directional signage with walking distances is commonplace, underground shopping tunnels allow pedestrians to avoid crossing large streets, an existing historic building was converted into a mall in 2010, and café seating spills out onto sidewalks throughout the city.





Design Principles for Aging in Place

Many recent surveys show that homeowners are staying in their homes longer. It could be due to the economy with decreasing home values making it difficult to buy a new home or the cost of assisted living facilities or the desire to continue to live in a familiar environment. Many people who plan to stay in their current home consider remodeling over buying a new one.

If you’re staying put for a while, then a well designed home should accommodate your current needs for comfort and safety and also be designed with enough forethought to evolve with your needs as you grow older or as your lifestyle changes. Aging-in-Place design considers creative solutions for wheelchair users, people that rely on mobility aids such as walkers, or crutches and people with visual or physical impairments.


Aging-in-Place Home Design Features


Consider using these Aging-in-Place design ideas for the ongoing future enjoyment of your home:

Floor Level Changes

  • Minimize change in floor levels. Have the least amount of steps possible. If a ramp is needed, then install one with 12” of length for every inch of rise. For example, if there is an 8” difference in height between floors, than the ramp should be eight feet long.
  • Seniors prefer one level homes over two levels. Stairs can be difficult to climb.
  • The step between the bathroom floor and the shower floor can be inconvenient for wheelchair users. Roll-in showers offer an option – the transition between the bathroom floor and the shower floor is relatively flat – the shower floor slopes from that point down to the drain. This option requires a larger shower to mitigate the shower spray from getting on the bathroom floor. Non-slip tile makes sense for everyone.

Pathway Clearances

  • Hallways and other circulation paths through rooms and around furniture should be between 36”-42” wide. Use this same minimum distance between countertops in a kitchen.
  • All doors should be a minimum of 32” wide with lever handles.



  • Lower the countertops from the typical height of 36” to 32”-34”.
  • Provide roll-under cooktops and sinks. (These are counters with drop-in fixtures at 32”-34” high with knee space below them).
  • Outfit base cabinets with drawers instead of doors. The drawers provide easier access to kitchen items with less bending.
  • Mount built-In wall ovens or microwave ovens at lower heights so the controls are no higher than 48” above the floor.


  • Use an elongated type toilet bowl with the seat 18” above the floor.
  • Provide blocking in the walls for future grab bars between 33”-36” off the bathroom floor. Install the blocking behind the toilet (24” wide), on a wall beside the toilet (42” wide) and in a shower or around a tub.
  • Specialty accessible tubs are available with a seat and they have doors for easy lateral transfers from a mobility device – grab bars are already pre-installed.
  • Sinks heights are determined for each individual’s needs – 32”-34” for wheelchair users or for people of short stature, 36” for people with bad backs.
  • Good lighting helps those with poor vision.

Laundry Rooms

  • Mount shelves at convenient heights for easy access to cleaning supplies.
  • Choose front-load washers and dryers with lower folding counters.


You can make these accessible accommodations by retrofitting your current home, including them in remodeling plans or even in a new custom home design. If you are buying a new home from a homebuilder, ask for these considerations that you are entitled to by law. In any case, work with your design professional to implement these and other universal design principles to ensure the barrier-free use and enjoyment of your home for years to come.


A Dramatic Remodel with Minimal Structural Changes

Orlando Custom Remodel

The Chapin Residence recently underwent a dramatic remodel with minimal structural changes.

The existing kitchen’s cramped walls were removed to open up the space to the new, larger family room with views of the pool. The original laundry room was relocated near the existing garage to provide space for the living room expansion. Additionally, the ceiling in the family room was raised two feet to make room for transom windows above the new French doors, improving the overall scale of the family room.

The kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms were also remodeled, including the master suite, complete with walk-in closets and an updated bathroom. The porch was turned into a functional outdoor living space thanks to the addition of a lanai.

For more information on the Chapin custom remodel, please visit the project profile.



Alleys in Urban Design: History and Application

A Short History of Alleys


Alley in Croatia by Dennis Jarvis

While alleys have existed in old world cities since the middle ages, they have had a limited level of utility in the recent American urban landscape. In the 19th century, American cities used alleys to hide the more utilitarian, less attractive functions of urban life including service and servant access, barns for horses and carriages, and even small shops and areas for children to play. However, the 20th century saw alleys nearly eliminated from the American urban landscape.


A number of events took place in the past century that contributed to the demise of the alley. Zoning segregated land use in such a way that many of the alley’s uses were redirected to distinct, separate districts. The automobile grew not only as America’s primary mode of transportation, but also as a status symbol. As such, home designs began to feature front loaded garages, allowing the automobile to be proudly displayed for all to see. Simultaneously, government spending focused on building high-speed roads and emphasizing home ownership, creating suburbs in lieu of cities. This “suburban” way of thinking about what communities should look like and how they should function was a shift away from compact, mixed-use development, causing alleys to be dismissed as costly wastes of space.


The Role of Alleys Today


In the 21st century, Americans are once again embracing the benefits of urban life, including walkability and compact mixed use development. Along with this “new urbanism,” we find ourselves once again embracing the alley as playing a critical role in the function of our cities and community development. Alleys are now a common feature in the design and redesign of our communities.


An alley in Winter Park, Florida.

 An alley leads to shops and restaurants in Winter Park, Florida.


The primary role of alleys has traditionally been to hide the more unsightly functions of our communities; the garages, garbage cans, transformers, electric meters, and telephone equipment. However, today their other positive impacts are celebrated as well: making possible narrower lots as garages are now accessed from the rear as opposed to being a prominent feature in front of a residence, enhancing safety as sidewalks and pedestrians become separated from the access requirements of vehicles, providing additional building access for firefighters, and creating a more casual neighborhood space adjacent to back yard activity centers, which leave the front of the house as a more formal community space.


Additionally, alleys are regaining their historic function as access for accessory housing units, providing a greater diversity of housing choices within our neighborhoods. We are also finding new uses for alleys, such as the Green Alley Movement, started in Chicago, which transforms alleys into greener community spaces which perform their traditional functions in addition to beautifying neighborhoods and reducing rainwater runoff. In older cities, alleys are being rediscovered as people places.


Applying Alleys


As with most urban design elements, a one-size-fits-all approach to alleys does not work. Alley specifications need to work within the framework of their surroundings. Alley design will vary depending on the uses within the alley: the character of residentially bounded alleys will differ from those that are found in commercial and industrial settings. Designers can implement a variety of alley sections, with variations occurring in pavement widths, garage setbacks, one-way or two-way access, parking locations, and service accessibility.


Alley-loaded homes in Baldwin Park, FL.

 Alley-loaded homes in Baldwin Park, Florida.


To ensure our new alleys work as they are intended, there is a need to coordinate the design, function, and development of alleys with many stakeholders. It’s not only designers that need to be involved in the process of determining what is the best alley design for a community or project, but also communities and their leaders, city planners, utility companies, solid waste removal providers, fire departments, public works departments, and developers all need to be brought to the table when alleys are being considered.



Greg Witherspoon Announced as Chair of ULI Central Florida

Canin Associates is excited to announce that Greg Witherspoon, Vice President of Business Development, has been announced as the incoming Chair of ULI Central Florida.


Greg Witherspoon, Chair of ULI Central Florida

Former ULI Central Florida Chair Cecelia Bonifay (left) with Greg Witherspoon (second from right) 


The Central Florida District Council of the Urban Land Institute provides leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Based in Washington, DC, ULI is an international nonprofit education and research institute that offers a forum for addressing issues impacting our communities.


Greg has volunteered with ULI since 2008. He has been an integral part of the District Council’s leadership, serving as the Programs Committee Chair in 2014, the Membership Chair in 2015, and on the Management Committee from 2014 to present. He is also the Chair of the Community and Housing Development Product Council for ULI Florida.


“I have had the pleasure of working with Greg through ULI and know he is perfect for this role,” said Cecelia Bonifay, outgoing Chair of ULI Central Florida, in a letter to local ULI members. Cecelia will remain an active member as the Governance Chair and Immediate Past Chair.


Canin Associates is a proud Annual Sponsor of ULI Central Florida as an Annual Sponsor.



Canin Collection: Canin Micro Homes

The Canin Micro Homes respond to a real-world housing shortage of affordable yet desirable products. Achieving densities of 20 to 24 units per acre, the homes range in size from 454 to 1,400 square feet. The designs feature open floor plans, front porches, and customizable options.

Canin Micro Homes

A new frugality is taking shape in the American mindset. A “less is more” attitude based on enhanced quality and attention to detail is reinventing spending patterns, housing choices, and amenity preferences. The Canin Micro Homes, part of the Canin Cottages initiative, are aimed at exploring this “new frugality” by implementing these homes where there is a need for more affordable yet higher-quality housing.

Canin Micro Homes

By attaining higher densities while remaining detached, these homes appeal not only to a wide range of buyers, but also to developers for their higher per-acre return. Additionally for builders, these Micro Homes are perfect for cost-effective systems-built construction.







Canin Associates to Present at the 2015 Southeast Building Conference

On Friday, July 17, 2015, Canin Associates’ Tony Weremeichik will present at the 2015 Southeast Building Conference (SEBC) in Orlando, Florida. Now in its 37th year, the SEBC has been a meeting place for building industry professionals from the areas of contracting, remodeling, architecture, engineering, and development. The three-day conference includes exhibits by more than 265 companies, as well as offering over 40 continuing education credits worth of workshops, panels, and presentations.


SEBC 2015 Canin Associates Architects


The topic of Tony’s presentation will be Buyer Magnets for Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomer. He is scheduled to present on Friday, July 17, at 1:00pm. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more information.



Canin Collection: Paseo Cottages

A new addition to the Canin Collection, the Paseo Cottages, feature unique three-bedroom plans that fit perfectly on 50′ by 50′ lots and achieve a density of 10 units per acre.


We anticipate that the theme in homebuilding for 2015 and 2016 will continue to center around the idea of reaching higher densities in single-family homes. Our Paseo Cottages respond to these modern requirements with three new 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath designs ranging from 1,539 to 1,840 square feet. Situated comfortably on 50’ by 50’ lots, these homes engage the entire yard with strong indoor/outdoor connections throughout the living spaces. While the site 50x50_Lot_SitePlanmay be compact, the homes are anything but. Expansive master bedroom suites feature spa-like baths, while separate domestic suites and generous walk-in closets offer the highest levels of convenience and utility. The open-plan, oversized kitchens offer ample cabinet storage, prep areas, and optional islands for cooking and seating. These beautiful cottages reside on intimate, pedestrian-friendly paseos and have room for three cars on-site (two in the spacious garage and one in the private driveway).





Tips on Achieving Sound Protection in New Homes and Remodels

While at a get-together at a friend’s house, a small group of us were talking in the great room, just outside the guest bathroom. A friend needed to use the bathroom. Our conversation was interrupted by a sudden surprise sprinkle sound—and I’m not so sure it was the faucet. And no, the exhaust fan they depended on could not drown out the sound. When the friend came out, I felt embarrassed for them, for they had no clue it was so audible. Later, I tapped on the door and, as suspected, it was a hollow core door. This is a shame, especially since the house was a luxury home.

I live in a house where the sound from the TV in our family room can be heard through the wall in our master bedroom, even at a modest volume. Sounds easily migrate through metal stud walls and hollow core doors. Normal conversations and sounds can be heard through them; they just simply do not provide enough buffering for sound privacy.

“When it comes to privacy, every dime you spend is worth a dollar.”

Amanda Bowers, The Kearney Companies

Walls and Doors serve three primary purposes: security, visual privacy, and sound privacy. The third purpose is just as important as the first two, yet is often overlooked, or simply ignored for the sake of a cheaper door selection or construction materials.

Home design and building professionals should consider specifying acoustical walls and doors for sound sensitive rooms, with doors and construction materials achieving high STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings.


Control sound and offer more value in new home construction or remodels, using the following construction guidelines:

  • On a floor plan, use a highlighter marker to identify rooms or areas that require sound privacy or buffering, and highlight the doors and walls surrounding all bedrooms, bathrooms (especially toilet closets) and air conditioning/heater closets or any other room that requires isolation from noise. Include a solid core door with a threshold; doors should not be undercut for venting. Therma-Tru noise reduction doors is one brand that provides an acceptable STC rating of 36;
  • Use wood studs for all interior walls, not metal studs;
  • For best acoustic management, finish walls using National Gypsum Gold Bond® brand 1/2″ SoundBreak® XP® Gypsum Board with Sporgard™ or CertainTeed’s SilentFX Noise-Reducing Gypsum Board or similar specialty wallboard. These high-density gypsum core boards consist of a layer of viscoelastic damping polymer sandwiched between two pieces of high density mold resistant gypsum board, providing constrained layer damping;
  • Also fill the wall cavities with Certainteed NoiseReducer Sound Attenuation Batt Insulation, Owens Corning Sound Attenuation Batts (SAB’s) or mineral wool batts. These provide excellent in-place acoustic performance for interior partition acoustic systems. Depending on the construction method used, SABs can improve Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings by 4 to 10 dBs.
  • One alternative to the specialty drywall is to use Acoustiblock’s soundproofing membrane attached directly to the wood stud framing, before wallboard is applied. The pliable, 3mm (1/8″) thick Acoustiblok membrane is engineered not to stop or even absorb sound, but through a unique thermodynamic process that reduces sound transmission virtually the same as 24-inches of concrete. A typical 2 x 4 gypsum stud wall is usually 33 to 35 STC. Acoustiblok installed in the 2 x 4 wall is lab certified at an STC of 52, better than 12″ of poured concrete (STC 51).

Acoustic Wall Detail



Event Recap: ULI Central Florida’s Volusia County Update

Leading the nation in job growth last year isn’t the only topic of discussion in Volusia County these days. With a major renovation of an iconic race track underway, cutting-edge research in aviation, and important infrastructure improvements in the works, ULI members and other attendees flocked to Daytona last week to hear the latest county news directly from the experts. The ULI Signature Event: Volusia County Update was held on April 30th at the Daytona International Speedway, drawing nearly 100 guests from around Central Florida and kicking off with a tour of the Daytona International Speedway. Attendees then met for the main event, moderated by Sans Lassiter, President of Lassiter Transportation Group, and featured presentations by Joie Chitwood III, Chris Kokai, and Martha Moore.


One Daytona Development


Joie Chitwood III, President of the Daytona International Speedway, shared not only the Speedway’s origins, but future plans to turn the track into a year-round attraction. For the first time in over 50 years, the Daytona International Speedway is getting a facelift. From seating improvements to upgraded amenities, the $400 million Daytona Rising project is underway to transform the race track into the world’s first motorsports stadium. But that’s not the only project slated for the area. Chitwood also gave visitors insight into One Daytona, a 190-acre, $800 million mixed-use development across from the Speedway. As expected, developments of this size don’t come without their fair share of challenges. For Chitwood and his team, a major challenge is meeting a construction schedule while still being able to operate the race track. Nonetheless, Daytona Rising and the first phase of One Daytona are expected to finish on-time in 2016.


Just next door to the Daytona International Speedway, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is researching aviation innovation. Florida Test Bed Director of Operations Chris Kokai gave a detailed overview of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen. Part of the Florida Test Bed rapid prototyping initiative, NextGen aims to improve the airspace through technology “in ways that the general public may not notice.” Kokai and other researchers are modernizing air traffic control systems through homogenized data and better communication. Benefits for commercial airlines that bring tourists to Volusia County include more direct routes, increased fuel efficiency, and more frequent take-offs, all of which affect the way arrive at and depart airports like Daytona Beach International.


Just like aviation improvements, both local and regional infrastructure improvements will be needed to move residents and visitors around the county. That’s where Martha Moore, Vice President at Ghyabi & Associates, and her team come in as planning consultants for the International Speedway Boulevard Corridor Master Management Plan. Moore walked attendees through a variety of projects, including an additional pedestrian bridge and wider sidewalks connecting One Daytona with the Speedway, interchange improvements, an aesthetics master plan, and potential areas for multi-modal hubs.


Canin Associates is a proud sponsor of ULI Central Florida. For upcoming events, please click here.





Do Home Buyers Really Want Smart Home Technology?

As a home designer, for many years I’ve been greatly anticipating a time when we will see useful and affordable electronics as standard items in our homes to make our lives easier–whether they offer convenience or save us money. I am still waiting. Options are all out there; we have the technology, but the costs are not quite attainable yet.  But new cars, at all price points, offer integrated Bluetooth technology, fuel monitoring, navigations systems, WiFi, etc.  The auto industry has responded to consumer demand, so why hasn’t the housing industry done the same?


NESTthermostatPicture2“I want that!” Home electronics and automation selections can be overwhelming. If you have ever researched the latest home technologies, or ever heard a presentation, you may feel like a kid in a candy store as there are boundless options. For most, it’s a dream come true to live in a technologically advanced, fully automated home as if you were George Jetson yourself. You may find you “would really like this” or you “gotta have that”…and the list usually grows.


But home electronics come at a cost, and frugal consideration must be given to home buyers’ needs and the conveniences they are willing to pay for.


What matters to homebuyers? A recent technology survey, “What Home Buyers Really Want,” presented at the 2015 International Builders Show, reveals what ranks at the top of buyer’s tech wish lists:




Since not everyone can afford it all, practicality rules. Level-headedness must prevail. But almost every type of buyer wants at least home security and programmable thermostats.


Millennial buyers seem to be the most tech savvy, but most are not in a financial position to be able to afford extras like central vacuums or lighting control systems. They are fine with their iPad controlled Apple TV and a wireless home theater surround sound system from Best Buy. For the most part, the same is true with the Gen-Xers and Boomers. Simple and easy-to-use gadgets that can be controlled with your smartphone seem to be what’s mainstream now.


Here are a few new, yet attainable, technology ideas that buyers may find to be “must haves” are slowly creeping their way into new homes, and Home Design and Building Professionals must adapt new plan designs to accommodate these needs:


  • Charge Electronics Devices: Most new home designs have a drop zone, a small transitional area where you “Drop” things when you come home, usually located between the garage and the kitchen. This convenient space allows you to drop your keys, purse, phone, mail, etc. on your way in without having to drop it all on the kitchen countertops. Instead of equipping this counter with a normal duplex outlet to recharge your phones, use the new USB Duplex outlets here, which provide two USB plugs for any smartphone charger. Already growing in popularity in hotel rooms, these USB duplexes come in handy behind the nightstands in the bedroom or in the home office as well.
  • Programmable Thermostat: Nest is a Learning Thermostat that learns your schedule, programs itself and can be controlled from your phone. Teach it well and the Nest Thermostat can lower heating and cooling bills up to 20%. ($250,
  • Front Door Locks: The bluetooth-controlled Kēvo is a new way to lock and unlock your front door without a key. Using your smartphone or keychain fob, this smart lock will unlock at the touch of a finger. The smartphone app lets you send e-keys, track entries and lock your home remotely. ($220,
  • Healthy Home:  How much is clean air worth to your buyers? How do you eliminate the unpleasant microscopic, particle-sized pollutants that surround you indoors and how do you remove them from the air you breathe? Innovated in Sweden, Blueair purifiers use HEPASilent® technology to silently and effectively remove triggers like dust mites, allergens, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), pet dander, mold, cigarette smoke, and more. ($330+,
  • Wrinkle Free Clothes: Save yourself time and money from having to go to the drycleaners, and do it yourself, sans the iron and steamer. Available at Best Buy, Whirlpool’s new Swash is a 10-minute clothing care system ($500, In new home or remodel design, consider a space to store it in the laundry room or master closet, and provide an outlet for it as well.




Home design is constantly changing and evolving to meet the needs and lifestyles of today’s homebuyers – much like the invention of the toilet that launched bathroom design in homes, refrigerators replaced ice boxes and furnaces replaced fireplaces, home electronics are now making a significant impact on the way we live and the way we have to design homes today for tomorrow.



Three Architectural Periods in Peru

Peru as a country boasts a mix of cultures, climates, and architecture. What makes it an incredible place to visit is that modern Peru seamlessly blends together its diverse history. Nonetheless, each culture and each historical period is still visible and alive throughout the country. Traveling through Peru last year, I noticed that a recurring theme was not only the country’s architecture, but the way it was adapted to changing circumstances. In general, buildings in Peru can be assigned to one of three categories: pre-Columbian, colonial, and vernacular.

Peru - Cusco - Architecture

Pre-Columbian Architecture in Peru

When we think of Peruvian architecture, we immediately picture large works of perfectly connected stone from the pre-Columbian period. And for good reason: These massive creations appear throughout the country and surrounding areas, from the desert coasts to the mountainous highlands to the Amazon jungle. They’ve withstood earthquakes, wars, conquest, colonial rebuilding, and the elements.

What sets Incan architecture apart is not just the size of the stones and the precision with which stonemasons cut them, but the fact that in many structures the blocks are not held together with mortar. Instead, craftsmen created a perfect fit and sometimes built in interlocking features on the tops, bottoms, or sides of the stones. At some of the most important sites, evidence suggests that these interlocking features were “cemented” together with traces of silver. To give flexibility to their structures during earthquakes, Incans sometimes built walls on top of gravel or small-stone foundations many meters deep.

However, when walking around historic places like Machu Picchu, you’ll quickly notice that not all buildings feature smooth stones that fit together perfectly. That’s because this time-intensive building style was reserved only for the most important buildings: temples and civic structures. Regular homes and agricultural sites were built with rustic stones, mortar, and thatched roofs.

Colonial Architecture in Peru

Once the Spanish conquered the last Inca stronghold in 1572, they rebuilt cities in what we now call a Spanish Colonial or Andean Baroque style. But on closer inspection, you’ll quickly notice that the new Spanish cities preserved many of the original elements. For example, the Spanish expanded on the existing grid system in Cusco, the former empire’s capital, and kept many of the same plazas. Religious structures were replaced with religious structures and elite residences were replaced with elite residences.

On the surface, these new buildings appear European, including their lavishly decorated baroque façades. However, along the foundations of many buildings, their Incan heritage is clearly visible. Hallmarks of Spanish colonial architecture in Peru are a base of perfectly fitted Incan stones, European-style white stucco walls, baroque stonework around doors and windows, and intricately carved wooden balconies.

Vernacular and Contemporary Architecture in Peru

While architectural grandeur reached stunning heights in Peru’s most important cities during the colonial period, vernacular architecture at cities’ outskirts and in rural areas has remained widely unchanged for many centuries. Dwellings are usually constructed with whitewashed adobe bricks; roofs are constructed with wood, straw, and hand-made clay tiles. Of course, being one of the world’s fastest growing economies in recent years has left its mark on the country’s largest cities. In Lima and Arequipa, growing modern skylines are ringing in yet another chapter of Peruvian architecture.


Eliza Harris Juliano Appointed to Orange County Development Advisory Board

Canin Associates’ Director of Urbanism, Eliza Harris Juliano, will be filling one of the nine positions on the Orange County Development Advisory Board. The board is responsible for reviewing proposed regulations impacting land use. Other professionals on the committee include licensed architects and landscape architects, builders and developers, a civil engineer, environmental specialist, financial specialist, attorney, general contractor, and homeowner’s association representative.




Canin Associates‘ team is dedicated creating great people places, not only by planning and designing places, but by our team members’ personal involvement in our local community.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEliza has a strong record of service in the public sector, having served on several local government boards and committees. These include Green Works Orlando, Mayor Buddy Dyer’s GreenWorks Task Force; the Orange County Sustainability Committee, which focuses on economic, environmental and social sustainability; and the Project DTO Task Force, where she was involved in the transportation sub-committee, a group of over 70 stakeholders appointed by the mayor to research, explore, and expand upon the dynamics of downtown Orlando.


Project DTO is of special interest to our team because downtown Orlando is our office’s own back yard, where projects like the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, SunRail, and the Orlando Bike Share Program are only the beginning of great new endeavors to make downtown Orlando even better. Canin Associates’ vice president of business development, Greg Witherspoon, also helps to keep the City Beautiful beautiful by serving on the City of Orlando Appearance Review Board.






Canin How-To: A Quick Hand-Colored Elevation

A quick marketing image can be created and used at any stage of the design process. An architectural rendering can assist in giving the client an understanding of the building or concepts of the design that can only be explained in shadow and/or color. By creating the image by hand, the client can visualize the project and add comments without feeling locked in to a photo-realistic computer-generated image.

Creating a hand-drawn elevation is a great way to flex those design muscles that may be a little rusty and to create a unique stamp for your personal and company brands. Below, you’ll find our six easy steps to go from blank paper to colored rendering, which we also collected in an infographic.


Tools used:

  • Pilot razor point pen (linework)
  • Staedtler lumocolor B (heavy ground line)
  • Prismacolor Cool Grey 30% and French Grey 40% (shadows and window poche)
  • Chartpak assorted colors
  • Total time: 30-45 minutes


Step 1: Creating Your Linework

Using a light table or trace paper, sketch a new elevation.  A single line weight is fine for this style of rendering.  If you want a more detailed or realistic quality use multiple line weights.  Depending on the scale and desired level of detail, do not overdo the details and material renderings. A heavy ground line gives the images a strong base since it will not be framed


Step 2:  Establish Landscape and Context

For this image, trees and shrubs will give the home context. Aim for balance and by paying attention to the overall composition.  Again, do not lose yourself in drawing every leaf or branch; go for outlines and texture, the detail can be added later or with color


Step 3:  Window Poche and Step 4:  Building Shadows

Windows when viewed in sunlight are actually relatively dark. However, you can add dimension to your window poche (the filling in of windows) by creating a soft gradient from darkest at the bottom. For shadows, establish your sun location and angle. This will also give you your shadows for when you add color. A simple trick is to place the shadow on the artist’s dominant side: for righties, the shadows are on the right and bottom, for lefties on the left and bottom.


Step 5:  Base Color

Test all colors on a separate sheet of the same paper. This way you know exactly how it will show up and can juxtapose the color variations quickly without having to lay a lot of color down on the image. Start with one flat base layer of color.  As a rule of thumb, have two or three hues per piece, for example three greens for the trees, three pinks/reds for the shrubs, and so on. For a smoother transition of color, you can add a second layer of the same color before changing to a different marker.


Step 6:  Add more color and you’re finished!

Use the same sun location you established when you did the building shadows in grey for your colors. This will keep the image consistent and still give an air of realism. Frame the building with a soft sky color, fading from darkest at the horizon line.

If you want, the shadows and window poche can be added after coloring, since the markers act like watercolors and allow a multiplying effect. Feel free to combine a hand-rendering technique with computer software for a more crisp that still has a lot of personality. This style can be used on any 2D image, plan, or elevation, as well as for 3D perspective views. It’s quick and simple, but still creates a great marketing image and branding style for you or your architectural office.




Architectural Case Study: Designing a Semi-Custom Home

Often times, our clients come to us with a specific design challenge. In the case of Magnolia Park, our client wanted to demonstrate that high quality and a great price are not mutually exclusive. Below, we take a closer look at our design process for this semi-custom home.



For Magnolia Park, we were commissioned to create a builder-friendly floorplan with striking elevations that stands apart from the competition. Because of that, our design for this semi-custom home needed to maximize value while adhering to a specific price point. Working within these design criteria posed a unique challenge as there were few precedents as reference.



To meet our client’s needs, we focused on smart design solutions that added value to the home without overcomplicating the footprint or the structure. We provided flexible living spaces and expansion options, created a layout that allowed for a spa-inspired master suite, and made sure that the entire house was tech-ready.

A hallmark of the home’s flexible living space is its seamless indoor-outdoor relationship. Inside, this grand entertaining space features vaulted ceilings and an eat-in kitchen with an island. Then, by simply opening the oversized glass doors, this great room becomes even more spacious by connecting directly to the outdoor living space.

The design’s openness is met only by its flexibility: The office has a full-sized closet and access to the hall bathroom, making it an ideal fourth bedroom. The garage was designed to allow for standard parking and ample storage around, with an additional 300 square feet of open attic—perfect for seasonal decorations. For even more space, an optional 576-square-foot flex room or guest suite can be added above the garage, creating an additional getaway or multigenerational living space.

Meanwhile, technology is integrated throughout the house: The master bathroom boasts a large shower room complete with hydrotherapy tub, the kitchen features a special iRobot storage cabinet, and an optional smart thermostat controls the home’s climate.



The resulting Magnolia Park semi-custom home features a cutting-edge, dynamic floorplan that is demographically neutral. The home lends itself to all ages, from single-women buyers and couples to young families and baby boomers, while offering high quality at a reasonable price.





CNU Florida Summit 2015: Our Takeaways

Last week, members of the Congress for the New Urbanism convened in Orlando for the 2015 CNU Florida Summit. The event’s theme was Transit and Transects: Sparking Florida’s Urban Revival. Speakers and tours covered topics including the rebirth of Downtown Orlando, the return of rail transit to Central Florida, and the development of urban neighborhood centers. Below, six Canin Associates team members share their takeaways from the two-day conference:


2015 CNU Florida Summit


Eliza Harris, Canin Associates Orlando“We were pleased to hear Billy Hattaway [District 1 Secretary, Florida Department of Transportation] talk about taking the connection between land and transportation seriously. The new standards will help urban state roads support community building.”

Eliza Harris, Director of Urbanism



jtcinquemani_150“The conversation about the successful conversion of College Park was really interesting, especially how the design of our main streets plays a fundamental role in how we think and feel about our community. The public realm is such an essential part of every community, and fully utilizing the economic, environmental, and social benefits is key.”

JT Cinquemani, Architectural Designer


elena_haas“As a newcomer to both CNU and Orlando, I was surprised by how much more I learned about the city, and how much New Urbanism is shaping it. Behind the scenes, Orlando is implementing many more New Urbanist principles than I realized.”

Elena Haas, Intern Architectural & Interior Designer




“Seeing several projects at different stages and in unique contexts helped me rethink the approach to design and its impact on end users. Since the challenges of urbanization are universally similar, it’s great to see how teams react to each project’s specific context with innovative solutions.”

Monica Pinjani, Urban Designer


Alex_Lenhoff_CNU“I found it interesting that important design elements that used to be optional are now required in many jurisdictions. It was inspiring to see policy and design begin to take steps in the same direction.”

Alex Lenhoff, Urban Planner



michael_richardson“It was refreshing to be reminded of the strong directional opinions at play in building and design-related industries. Despite overall progress, leaders continue to find creative ways to deal with the current social and built environments on a more detailed scale.”

Michael Richardson, Architectural Designer




More information on individual sessions and speakers can be found in the 2015 CNU Florida Summit Agenda.


5 Tips to Get Your Clubhouse Right

A clubhouse can be a neighborhood focal point and help attract new residents. However, not all amenity centers are created equal. From functionality to aesthetic appeal, here are five tips to make your clubhouse shine:

Custom Clubhouse / Amenity Center

1. Function, then form.

The program of your clubhouse is everything. Decide on what functions your clubhouse should have, and that will inform how much space it will require; don’t try to squeeze in amenities where they don’t fit, or they won’t add value to your space or community. Certain rooms require specific minimum sizes. For example, fitness rooms should be around 40 feet wide to allow for cardio equipment on outside walls with space for weight machines in the center. Give some thought to how the entrances and exits of spaces are aligned, so furniture space isn’t wasted, allowing for crisscrossing circulation paths across the multi-purpose room or other large, open spaces.

2. One building, or several?

So you’ve decided on a hefty program, and now you’ve got to figure out where it’s going to fit into your community. Phasing, access, and amenity sites can be used to determine if your needs can be met by one large building, or several single or double-purpose buildings. What you decide could create a community focal point or an amenity complex with meeting and multi-purpose space, fitness cabana, refreshment building, pool bathhouse, and more. Breaking up the building also reduces the overall square footage requirement, if the size is what’s holding you back.


Zero Entry Pool - Avalon Park / Orlando, Florida

3. The clubhouse is an important amenity to potential homebuyers.

One of the biggest selling points of a community is the clubhouse. If a neighborhood requires HOA fees, offering large-scale community resources is a great way to persuade potential homebuyers. Providing a clubhouse can also address a homebuyer’s typical hesitations, such as not having enough yard for a backyard pool, lacking space for large gatherings, being too far from the gym, or needing a way to get acquainted with neighbors. A clubhouse can be an excellent option as a “third place”—a gathering space other than home or work for community members to meet and mingle.

4. Elevation: scale and proportion.

This is your chance to “wow” guests and to create a community focal point. Use the clubhouse exterior to define the architectural style and feel of the neighborhood. With a great entrance and landscape package, it can create that memorable image that defines the community. Each part of the building has its own function, so use that to your benefit and pop the main entrance or fitness space forward or up, creating a defined piece and humanizing the scale of the structure.

5. Quality over quantity.

Building costs almost always affect design choices, so think practically. For example, over-articulating corners and walls can create dead spaces in a plan and add extra construction costs. If you have porches or patios, make sure they are of an adequate size to perform their function, like allowing space for furniture. A beautiful, functional clubhouse does not have to break the bank, and when done right, can help to sell every lot and home in the neighborhood.



Single-Family Can Be Urban, Too

American housing design is in need of a paradigm shift. Recognizing generational preferences, increasing affordability constraints, and sustainable solutions are needed to start a new chapter in the planning of our cities, especially when it comes to housing. But that doesn’t mean the single-family home is dead. In fact, if we begin to build houses around the principles of density, efficiency, and flexibility, a modern version of the single-family home could bridge the gap between what incentivizes builders and developers, and the new reality faced by many potential homebuyers.

 Single-Family Homes in an Urban EnvironmentSeattle, 1947. Photo © Seattle Municipal Archives


The nation’s changing demographics are a driving force behind a new focus on the often overlooked needs of two explosive market segments: singles in both Gen Y and Baby Boomer cohorts. With over half of all American adults single1, it’s no surprise that 28% of new-home buyers (18% women and 10% men) are single2. Additionally, Generation Y (now between 20 and 34 years old) and Baby Boomers (currently between 50 and 68 years old) make up nearly two-thirds of homebuyers3. While the housing industry has begun looking at the opportunity to serve Baby Boomers, it often fails to completely understand the needs of Gen Y and single buyers.


Singles in the United States


While three-quarters of Americans across all cohorts still prefer to live in single-family detached homes4, it has become difficult for Gen Y and single buyers to find affordable, tailored homes in the current stock of home designs and builder offerings. Financial pressures are increasingly affecting young homebuyers’ decisions. Adjusted median household income has remained virtually unchanged since 19895 and is one of the factors behind increased credit card debt and high student loans. Combined, stagnant earnings and growing personal debt are reducing the buying power of many young Americans, which is reflected in a 12% drop in first-time homebuyer market participation in the past decade6. Because the conventional building model does not take these restrictions into account, it misses out on a large portion of potential homebuyers.


Median Household Income

Changing demographics, increasing financial constraints, and modern preferences create the perfect springboard for a new era of very different single-family offerings. For example, without losing the quality and appeal of a traditional single-family community, micro homes (under 1000 sq. ft.) can create neighborhoods of truly detached single-family homes at densities of over 20 units per acre. For builders, higher densities can mean lower land costs per unit; for developers, micro neighborhoods can yield significant margins in per-acre sales; and for buyers, the ability to afford a detached home can once again become an aspirational reality.


In our site planning tests, we found that micro neighborhood designs can fit between four and six specially-designed homes (ranging from 500 to 900 square feet) onto a quarter-acre lot, allowing for densities of 16, 20, or even 24 units per acre. This model gives developers the ability to create complete, intimate neighborhoods. By limiting the size of the offerings to no more than 20 to 30 homes per neighborhood, it becomes possible to drive rapid absorption by matching demand and opportunity on a finely calibrated scale. Developers can create a sense of buyer urgency with flexible pricing that they can adapt to demand, available inventory, and market pricing.


With diversifying preferences and changing economic conditions, increasing residential density is the next logical step in American home design for builders, developers, municipalities, and, most importantly, buyers. By adapting the single-family home to a more urban context, we can take these considerations into account and create walkable, authentic communities.


[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
[2] National Associates of Realtors, Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 2011
[3] National Association of Realtors, Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends, 2014
[4] National Association of Realtors, National Community Preference Survey, 2013
[5] US Census Bureau, 2012
[6] National Association of Home Builders, Wall Street Journal, 2014



ULI Central Florida: 2015 Emerging Trends in Real Estate

On January 30, 2015, ULI Central Florida held its annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate conference. At the half-day event, guest speakers and panelists shared their 2015 forecasts and projects with over 200 registrants from industries including real estate, development, urban planning, and architecture. With a recovering economy and positive job growth particularly in Orlando, the general outlook for 2015 was positive, albeit cautious. Jobs, oil, and Millennials proved to be steadfast topics of discussion throughout the event.

Back by popular demand, local political commentators Lou Frey and Dick Bachelor of WMFE’s Intersection opened the conference with their trademark banter on the local and national political scene. Mr. Frey, a former Florida Congressman (R), and Mr. Bachelor, a former Florida House Representative (D), gave their thoughts on the presidential race and what it could mean for Central Florida.


The event’s Keynote Speaker was Jeff Korzenik, Chief Investment Strategist at Fifth Third Bank. He summarized his economic outlook for 2015 into five points:

  1. The US economy will continue to grow.
  2. The GDP gap is shrinking.
  3. Oil will a big deal.
  4. The Federal Reserve will a bigger deal.
  5. Investment opportunities are narrowing.


Mr. Korzenik went on to describe each point in detail, using jobs as a context. Despite the slowing growth of emerging markets worldwide, the United States has seen the strongest job growth since 1999 by adding over 200,000 jobs each month. Still, two challenges remain: employers are having a hard time finding qualified labor and aging Baby Boomers, who are retiring en masse, are leaving behind a diminished available workforce.


Other observations included:

  • Oil prices will rise again, but not to previous levels.
  • While bonds are still lagging worldwide, US bond yields are still attractive enough to draw local and international investments.
  • If your business is labor-dependent, it will be a tough year due to rising wages.
  • Slowly rising interest rates are not destructive to the economy, but will affect industries like real estate and development more than others.


Overall, Mr. Korzenik’s forecast was positive for Florida’s land-use related disciplines. The state is set to benefit from continuing to expand and improve its infrastructure, as well as the growing population in areas like Orlando and Miami.


Emerging_Trends_Real_Estate_2015Following Mr. Korzenik, Andrew Warren gave the event’s signature Emerging Trends in Real Estate presentation, based on the Emerging Trends in Real Estate – United States and Canada 2015 book, which can be downloaded here (PDF). Mr. Warren, the Director of Real Estate Research at PwC, called for more awareness and “sustainable momentum.” He noted the importance of “keeping an eye on the horizon and how much of the runway is left, more so than in 2006.”


Some of the takeaways from the Top 10 Emerging Trends for 2015 were:

  • Millennials and Baby Boomer are still affecting the market, notably through urban preferences.
  • The “18-Hour City” and diverse infrastructure will play important development roles.
  • Land costs are up, which translates into people taking greater risks.
  • While domestic government gridlock threatened to derail the economy in the past year, 2015’s biggest uncertainty will be worldwide geopolitical events.
  • One side effect of global events could be higher construction costs.
  • Despite growing job numbers, income is lagging behind, causing affordability to decrease.
  • More information on the presentation can be found on the PwC website.


After Mr. Warren’s presentation, two panels took the stage. The first group featured John Classe of Crescent Communities, Tony Eelman of FBC Mortgage, LLC, Maurice Johnson of Taylor Morrison, and Trip Stephens of ZOM. Together with moderator Lisa Dilts (Compspring), the panelists discussed Housing Trends for 2015. Once again, jobs were a major topic of discussion: “Job growth will stoke Millennial household creation, who prefer urban areas,” said Mr. Classe. Therefore, Mr. Johnson argued that “single-family homes should have all the features and amenities of city life to attract Millennials.”


The second panel, Commercial Trends, was moderated by Michael “Doc” Terry of the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management, whose panelists discussed commercial trends with a focus on Orlando’s tourist corridor: International Drive. Mr. Terry was joined by Jim Bagley of Encore Housing Funds, Carl Kernodle of Hyatt Hotels, and Josh Wallack of Mango’s, SOBE, and Skyplex. One major trend expected by the panelists will be the diversification of hotels, including urban hotels with a city atmosphere, hotels geared towards longer-staying international tourists, and families looking for multi-generational accommodations. Meanwhile, attractions in the district are becoming more aware of pedestrians and their safety. For International Drive itself, this means improved infrastructure such as pedestrian bridges.


The 2015 Emerging Trends in Real Estate conference concluded with the 2015 Trendsetter Award. This year’s winner was The Church Street Exchange. The team behind this effort took a defunct mall in downtown Orlando with nearly complete vacancy and leased it fully within 18 months, creating a model for adaptive reuse that serves Orlando’s growing tech, start-up, and non-profit scene. Other nominees included the City of Tavares, Laureate Park at Lake Nona, and First Green Bank.





Implementing Streetcars: Lessons from Atlanta

The streetcar fits a unique niche in our transportation system different from bus or light rail. It’s often described as an extension of the walking environment thanks to its ability to be used for short trips, while still connecting different neighborhoods within a city. However, as recent streetcar projects like the Downtown Loop in Atlanta have shown, their success requires patience.


Photo © Matt Johnson via flickr

When to Implement Streetcars

In late 2014, Atlanta joined a growing number of US cities to add the modern streetcar to their available transit options. For Atlanta, the new Downtown Loop is the city’s first line since the original streetcar system closed in 1949. In a recent New York Times article, Keith T. Parker, the Chief Executive of MARTA, was quoted saying this about the new three-mile line:

“These are not projects for right now. These are projects for the future, and when you look around, the cities who we’re competing with around this nation and around the world, they’ve made investments in public transportation.”

This sentiment mirrors what we wrote in our previous post on streetcars: they are community builders. More than a mode of transportation, they aid in neighborhood revitalization. This means that cities can implement streetcars at strategic times and for specific purposes: to encourage transit-oriented development in new communities, to spur investment in underserved areas, or to provide a much-needed transportation alternative in bustling urban areas. No matter when streetcars are implemented in a city’s timeline, it takes time for them to become integrated into the urban landscape and into the habits of local residents and visitors—especially in places new to this type of fixed transit.

Where to Implement Streetcars

So perhaps it’s the growing pains of implementing a streetcar route in an existing urban fabric that has caused mixed reviews for Atlanta’s Downtown Loop. One notable piece was written by Atlanta magazine’s own Rebecca Burns, who chronicled her commute to work for an entire week using the new line. In addition to observing Atlanta’s overall lack of transportation options once at work, Burns’ biggest frustration was the speed of the streetcar: the line operates in regular vehicular traffic. While her ride provided shelter from the elements and a chance to catch up on email, in an auto-centric city of nearly half a million people, sometimes sitting in gridlock remains a reality.

streetcar_implementation_atlantaStill, a streetcar that operates in a regular traffic lane is not doomed to fail. One benefit of mixing the streetcar with cars is the ability to use an existing street lane without having to remove it. Taking out auto travel lanes can be controversial or impractical in many locations and completely new rails require additional planning and funding. However, in congested areas, an exclusive lane will make service not only faster but also more reliable and therefore more usable by non-tourist travelers.

Right now, the Atlanta Streetcar’s biggest challenge seems to be the need to prove its usefulness not only for tourists, but also for professional commuters, residents, and students. As the community grows around the new route and residents integrate it into their daily lives, the streetcar is sure to become an important cornerstone for downtown Atlanta.

 Photo © Central Atlanta Progress via flickr

Tony Weremeichik at 2015 International Builders’ Show

Every year, over 75,000 attendees from around the world convene at the NAHB International Builders’ Show (IBS). Alternating every two years between Las Vegas and Orlando, the 2015 IBS is taking place in Las Vegas from January 20th to the 22nd. Our Principal of Architectural Design, Tony Weremeichik, is attending this year’s IBS on behalf of the Canin Associates team.



While there, Tony will be one of the experts leading the Kitchen & Interiors Design Plan Review Workshop. At this session, attendees have the chance to meet one-on-one with over a dozen experienced professionals in the fields of interior design and architecture. During this time, participants will learn how to optimize their designs through fine-tuning and editing of ideas.




Workshop Details

Title                        Kitchen & Interiors Design Plan Review Workshop

Day                        Wednesday, January 21

Time                      2:00 – 5:00PM (Reserve seat 30 minutes prior to session.)

Location                South 224

Tracks                   Design, Development & Community Planning


During the show, keep an eye out for Tony and follow him on Twitter at @CaninArchStudio.




Design Principal Tony Weremeichik Named Among “Who’s Who in Green Home Building 2014”

Canin Associates is proud to have Principal of Architectural Design, Tony Weremeichik, named among Green Home Builder Magazine’s “Who’s Who in Green Home Building 2014.” Tony’s article, “Green Lifestyle Views by Different Generations” was published in Green Home Builder Magazine and its sister publication, Builder and Developer, last year.


Orlando Architect Tony Weremeichik
Tony in a Certified Green Professional (CGP) and has been a leader in architectural design for over 20 years, specializing in new, custom, and remodeled homes, as well as in master-planned communities and resorts in the US, Europe, and Central America. Canin Associates’ design work combines historical precedents and classical proportions with new technologies and contemporary designs. This process has led to sustainable traditional and custom homes, as well as innovative housing types, including the “Jewel Box” homes, Paseo Cottages, and Baby Boomer plans. These efficient, “right-sized” homes, based on current market trends, are targeted specifically for today’s homebuyer, who prioritizes efficiency, technology, and a sense of community.





Canin Award Funds Student Trip to Medellín, Columbia

Last fall, a group of students and professors from the University of Miami School of Architecture had the opportunity to visit Medellín, a Columbian city now famous for implementing a series of smart urban solutions in the past decade. Canin Associates is thrilled to have been able to help make this trip possible, along with support from the University of Miami Citizens Board.


Medellín as a city has garnered a lot of attention in the past few year, from being named Innovative City of the Year in 2013 to hosting the United Nations World Urban Forum in 2014. Not only have city leaders and citizens actively reduced the cartel-induced crime that plagued the city for decades (the name “Murder Capital of the World” may come to mind), they also dedicated themselves to fostering social urbanism, a form of people-focused urban development. Today, outdoor escalators and a streetcar-like gondola line connect the city’s hilly outskirts to the center of town. A state-of-the-art library is paired with a new park to create the Parque Biblioteca España, one of the city’s architectural icons. These projects are mirrored by many more smaller scale initiatives with a focus on community building.

Canin Award Funds Thank You

In Medellín, young designers from the University of Miami studied the city’s architecture and saw first-hand the importance of innovative urban interventions. The students turned their experiences abroad into 11 proposals. Their visions focused on the future of the up-and-coming area around the Cemetery of San Lorenzo. Students presented their final concepts for “Studio Medellín” last December, and Professor Carmen Guerrero will create a report collecting these designs and the lessons learned on the group’s trip.



5 Takeaways from Harvard Design’s Miami Weekend

Last week, my alma mater was kind enough to bring the alumni event to us here in Florida for the first time. The Harvard Graduate School of Design held its Alumni + Friends Weekend in Miami, coinciding with Art Basel and Design Miami. The three-day meeting included a series of presentations, discussions, and site tours led by local and national experts in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. Below, I share the top five takeaways and trends to give you an intimate look into the GSD Weekend.


Paseo Ponti in Miami’s Design District

1. Everyone is passionate about cities.

During A Conversation at Arquitectonica, three of the company’s original founders discussed the ties between New Urbanism, contemporary architecture, and the comeback of cities. They reflected on how their own companies’ shared history mirrors the larger conversation around the future of cities: with both traditional and avant-garde practitioners taking different paths to bring the American city out of negative cycles of the 1960s and 70s. Bernardo Fort-Brescia, Laurinda Spear, and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk talked about creating the modern-focused Arquitectonica and the branching off by Plater-Zyberk (with fellow Arquitectonica co-founder and Congress for the New Urbanism co-creator Andrés Duany) to form DPZ with a focus on urbanism both in cities as well as greenfield towns.  Fort-Brescia discussed how their early projects focused on bringing housing into the city which at the time was viewed as a place for business only. Plater-Zyberk discussed how their work at Seaside led to a much larger conversation about the future of cities. They also spoke about how their differing educational backgrounds at Yale, Columbia, and Princeton influenced their outlooks on architecture.

2. Miami21 is making buildings more urban.

It’s one thing for skyscrapers to promote density, but it’s an entirely different hurdle for them to embody urbanism. This was another central theme discussed during A Conversation at Arquitectonica. Fort-Brescia noted that previous versions of the city code often negatively influenced the design of buildings and projects. He discussed how elements of Arquitectonica’s iconic Atlantis project in Miami responded to the codes of the time, which required suburban-style setbacks and landscaping. He credited Miami21 with giving architects the opportunity to design urban, city-supportive architecture. The Miami21 Code resurfaced several times during the conference. Architect Carie Penabad mentioned the potential for the code to help Miami rediscover the “Missing Middle” of housing typologies.

3. A renewed focus on cities and sustainability could narrow the divide between traditional and avant-garde architecture.

The comparisons of traditional and contemporary architecture carried over into the final symposium of the weekend, called Coastlines: Architecture, Landscape, and the Construction of Waterscapes. During the Saturday afternoon architecture session, Chad Oppenheim spoke about incorporating the techniques of Miami Modernist architecture, more popularly known as MiMo, into his contemporary architectural style.

There are many lessons that can be learned from the MiMo style, including the way it handles the area’s relentless sun exposure and resulting heat gain. Carie Penabad discussed how initially much of the downtown skyline was populated by steel and glass contemporary buildings in styles imported from the Northeast that do not take climate into account. Oppenheim and Penabad showed how the focus on climate adaptation has helped identify common ground between avant-garde and classically inspired architecture.

4. Water: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

A major theme of the weekend was water: engaging with water in a positive way, as well as dealing with the inherent vulnerability to storms and flooding both in Miami and around the world. We toured the one-of-a-kind Miami Marine Stadium that has a storied history of hosting boat shows and floating concerts including acts like The Who and Jimmy Buffett, but has been closed down now for two decades. Currently, local citizens are rallying to bring back this unique water-based resource.


Miami Marine Stadium

During the Coastlines symposium, speakers discussed the steps taken to deal with increased flooding in Miami Beach, as well as big ideas to keep buildings above water in even worse storms. With the increased potential for Sandy-esque superstorms, resilience planning that targets water intrusion will shape future development trends. While conventional engineering methods focus solely on hardening (building walls to stop water in its tracks), new mitigation strategies promote a mix of hardening and softening. Softening methods included preserving and enhancing natural systems as well as building new landscape solutions. Natural and manmade strategies include barrier islands, wetlands, sunken parks, and break-away walls, both natural and manmade.

In the most eye-opening session of the symposium, Kunlé Adeyemi discussed his work with the African Water Cities Project, which creates architecture in the floating world of low income communities in Nigeria where walking or swimming are the only forms of transportation.  These communities represented both a poetic interdependence where water is both home, creation, transportation and food source as well as the challenges of dealing with fluctuating waters, sanitation, and often a lack of legal legitimacy. Adeyemi proposed a classification of water-integration in communities ranging from a water independent locations, to hybrid cities like Venice and Amsterdam, and finally to the completely water-dependent communities on the Nigerian coastline.

5. City infill should focus on the missing middle.

Carie Penabad talked about Miami’s missing middle: the gap between expensive high-rise condo developments and the historic stock of mostly one-story dwellings. Much of the focus for the afternoon had been on those high dollar, luxury projects which can typically afford exotic architecture. When the topic of affordability came up, several of the architects expressed how much they would love to do affordable housing designs and said “bring us a project!” Penabad proposed filling in the missing middle as an important strategy to bridge this gap.  Miami21 has the potential to fill this need both physically and economically by allowing for more medium-density buildings that better match the city’s median income figures and to help smooth the transition between existing neighborhoods and high rises. The “Missing Middle” idea has been gaining steam for some time. The term was coined by Dan Parolek of Opticos in California and we have been busy generating new missing middle typologies here at Canin Associates.

Eliza Harris Harvard Graduate School of Design - Miami Alumni Weekend

Eliza Harris, second from the right / Photo courtesy of the Harvard Graduate School of Design


At Canin Associates, both Brian Canin (MAUD ’68) and Eliza Harris (MUP ’07) are graduates of the Harvard GSD.



Event Recap: ULI’s Project DTO, From Vision to Reality

This morning I attended Project DTO: Advancing Downtown Orlando, From Vision to Reality, an event put on by ULI Central Florida. Project DTO started in 2014 with the goal of creating a comprehensive visioning process for the next ten years of Downtown Orlando’s evolution.

Over 90 diverse community thought-leaders convened for Project DTO to build an innovative vision, a thorough marketing strategy, and a major update to the community redevelopment area plan. I was looking forward to this event for a while because the effort championed the engagement of all sectors in the planning of our urban core’s future. The resulting vision plan highlighted ten big ideas:

The panelists included Philip Holt and Brooke Myers (vice chairs of Project DTO), Shelley Lauten (chair of the Access Committee), and Jennifer Quigley (chair of the Arts and Culture Committee). The conversation, moderated by the City of Orlando’s Thomas Chatmon, touched on topics ranging from transportation and education to arts and homelessness.

A common theme throughout the discussion was the involvement of and planning for the community itself. “We’re building for our own residents, not necessarily for tourists,” said Myers. The focus on the area’s own citizens was echoed by Holt, who said, “Cities that succeed are defined by their people.” On the note of education, Myers talked about how the planned K-8 community school in Parramore and the UCF/Valencia campus (scheduled for 2017) in Creative Village will continue to activate downtown.

Shelley Lauten discussed recommendations from the Access Committee, which included Canin’s Eliza Harris. Lauten talked about changes that will make it easier to get around, including improved pedestrian conditions, expansion of the Lymmo bus circulator, and the forthcoming bike sharing program. She encourages listeners to “get on a bike or walk and see a part of your city you haven’t seen before!” Lauten also mentioned the proposal for converting downtown’s one-way streets back to two-way streets, a notion that garnered applause from the audience. “Downtown Orlando needs to be a destination, not just a thoroughfare,” she concluded.

By spring 2015, Project DTO will share its final vision for Downtown Orlando with a comprehensive document and a community-wide event. With our offices located in the Downtown CRA, we’re thrilled to see how much effort is put into further turning downtown into what we call a “great people place.”

Canin Associates is a proud annual sponsor of ULI Central Florida for 2014.



A Brief Look: What is a Multi-Way Boulevard?

Streets, roads, courts, avenues, boulevards—cities use these words to name a range of street types. But in transportation design, each one describes a very specific type of thoroughfare. In this Brief Look, we’ll see what makes a thoroughfare a multi-way boulevard and why they are great placemaking solutions.

Typical Boulevard Plan View


The term “boulevard” is broadly used to describe a street or promenade planted with trees. For planners and engineers, however, a boulevard is also a highly valuable piece of roadway that can accommodate multiple users and types of movement within an urban design framework. We generally refer to this as a multi-way boulevard.

A multi-way boulevard contains three essential elements: central through lanes, parallel frontage lanes (coupled with an inviting pedestrian realm), and landscaped tree lawns (to buffer low speed users from through traffic). Beyond these core ideas, there can be a good deal of variety in the specific design, such as the location of transit and additional pedestrian or bicycle facilities.

One of the biggest challenges facing urban designers and traffic engineers is designing a roadway that accommodates the expectations of transportation officials while at the same time providing a safe, walkable environment that promotes pedestrian, bicycle, and transit uses. This is where the central through lanes provide the needed vehicular capacity, while frontage lanes create a calm, multi-use environment that lends itself to urban commercial and mixed-use development opportunities.

Boulevard with Streetcar


Multi-way boulevards come with many more benefits: they are aesthetically pleasing, accommodate on-street parking without interfering with through traffic, and create opportunities for buildings to interact with the sidewalk. Nonetheless, some challenges may exist in their application. Their higher cost and potential need for additional right-of-way must be acknowledged before design implementation can begin. Furthermore, a lack of existing engineering design standards means that only those with a strong understanding of roadway design can develop them.

From handling high volumes of traffic to providing fully functional pedestrian infrastructure, multi-way boulevards are a serious option for designing and redesigning large-scale thoroughfares in urbanizing areas.




Eliza Harris on 2015 APA Awards Jury

Eliza Harris, Canin Associates Orlando



This past November, the American Planning Association invited Eliza Harris, Director of Urbanism at Canin Associates, to sit on the 2015 APA Awards Jury in Chicago. She joined the jury to share her wealth of knowledge on long-range transportation planning, urban design, and smart growth issues.


Each year, the American Planning Association’s Awards Jury selects the projects and people that will be recognized for their outstanding efforts in planning and planning leadership. This year’s interdisciplinary, six-person jury was comprised of leaders in urban planning, architecture, transportation, and government. The APA Awards honor professionals and students with awards including the Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan, the HUD Secretary’s Opportunity & Empowerment Award, and a series of National Planning Excellence Awards. Winners will be honored at the 2015 National Planning Conference in Seattle.









Tony Weremeichik to Present at MCBC


Tony Weremeichik, Principal of Architecture, Canin Associates, OrlandoThe Master Custom Builder Council (MCBC) has invited Tony Weremeichik, principal of the architecture studio at Canin Associates, to present at November’s General Membership meeting.


He is joined by Shanna Bender, owner and design principal at Design Studio 15, and Patti Guthrie, director at Marc-Michaels. Together, the three panelists will spend an exclusive lunch session with MCBC members to discuss 2015 design trends.

The event takes place on Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 at Winter Park’s beautiful Alfond Inn from 11:00am to 2:00pm.




David Weekley Partners with Canin Associates on New Home Designs

David Weekley Homes, Professional Builder Magazine’s 2013 National Builder of the Year and one of the Nation’s most reputable Home Builders, has joined forces with Canin Associates’ Architectural Design Studio to produce some of Central Florida’s most exceptional new homes.


Canin has given a fresh new look to the traditional elevations of some of Weekley’s best-selling Custom Classic house plans in Baldwin Park, and we have also created brand new, contemporary floor plans and elevations for their Central Living infill lot projects throughout Orlando and Winter Park.

Lyman Avenue Paired Villas

Another addition to the David Weekley lineup is the Lyman Avenue Paired Villas. These elegant new designs present homeowners with the best of both worlds. Located just minutes from Winter Park’s scenic Central Park and bustling Park Avenue, these stylish paired homes combine easy access to restaurants and entertainment with a comfortable, serene design. A fully equipped al fresco courtyard kitchen, ample storage space, a home office, a grand kitchen, and high-end bathroom finishes enhance this unique 2,009 sq. ft. living experience.

Images courtesy of Canin Associates and David Weekley Homes.




The New Neighborhood: Mixed-Use and Multi-Modal

Conventional suburbs are making way for carefully master-planned neighborhoods with character. Outparcels remain a commodity along major thoroughfares, but are seamlessly integrated into the overall urban fabric of a budding community. In Southwest Florida’s Lake Flores, this concept is strengthened through two ideas: complete streets and multi-modal trails.


Lake Flores Florida Site Master Plan 3

Lake Flores bridges conventional commercial development and urban neighborhoods with thoughtful, multi-modal streets and trails.


Located near Sarasota, Lake Flores is an infill site of over 1,300 acres overlooking Sarasota Bay and just a few miles from the beach. This is the kind of special site that only comes available once in the life of a community. With the county’s How Will We Grow vision setting the stage for more mixed-use, urban development, the time is ripe for a game-changing new project that will set the tone for the next era of growth in this coastal community. After decades of ownership by the Manatee Fruit Company, this long-term venture has the potential to grow and evolve over a 20 year period.


Multi-Modal Trail Urban Planning

A landscaped multi-modal trail accommodates pedestrians, runners, cyclists, and small electric vehicles.


The heart of the plan is the community’s namesake, Lake Flores. This new nineteen-acre lake is surrounded by a green edge of park, which will provide a gathering place for the community and the region. Adjacent to the lake will be a new main street with restaurants and entertainment. Visitors can dine with a lake view or take an evening stroll after dinner. Apartments overlooking Lake Flores will create a peaceful, urban residential option convenient for a morning job and within easy walking distance of the main street. With two different business centers to accommodate commercial office as well as research and development, Lake Flores also provides the realistic opportunity to live and work in the same community.


Calm, carefully designed streets with opportunities for walking and biking both for recreation and practical transportation will be a priority at Lake Flores. A central multi-modal trail and linear park run the length of the site connecting all of the neighborhoods safely to the lakeside park and retail amenities. This trail is truly multi-modal, design to accommodate a soft path for runners as well as a hard surface wide enough for small electric shuttles. In addition, all streets are designed to be complete for all modes of transportation with buildings oriented to reinforce neighborhood character.




A Quick ‘n’ Simple Roundabout Infographic

We created this roundabout infographic to explain why they’re such a great intersection solution (click for the full size image). Learn more with our recent post, The Benefits of the Modern Roundabout.



Streetcars Then and Now

Streetcars were a primary mode of transportation in America’s urban areas at the turn of the last century. In 1902, they carried 5.8 billion trips and provided quality transit service to compact, walkable cities. However, as cars began to dominate the post-war streetscape, streetcars fell from prominence.

Today, tastes in the United States are changing. Or, more accurately, they are leaning back to what they were before. Long commutes and worsening congestion are making urban and walkable lifestyles more desirable. With a changing national demographic that favors the urban life, cities are once again exploring streetcars as a way to catalyze the development and redevelopment of walkable neighborhoods.

Streetcars Old and New
Photo via Stephen Rees

Streetcars for Neighborhood Revitalization

Streetcars are more than just a form of transportation: They are city builders. But what type of development best compliments the streetcar? Generally, they are well-suited for higher-density, mixed-use buildings. A variety of mixes may include commercial, office, and residential uses. Residential densities should be at least 20 to 30 units per acre. Meanwhile, densities exceeding 100 units per acre can ensure good ridership.

Still, it’s important to remember that these mixes and densities don’t need to be present from day one. In fact, an essential role of streetcars is to help build such neighborhoods. Once established, they benefit from the ridership they produce. Fixed-transit provides a reliable development environment for private investors and an easy-to-understand first transit experience for new urban dwellers.

Streetcar installations have spurred high-quality, mixed-use development along corridors in cities such as Portland, Oregon; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Tampa, Florida. In Portland, studies showed that the combination of streetcars and good development policies helped spur $2 billion dollars in private-sector investment. Meanwhile, the total public investment in streetcars was $57 million. Moreover, ridership was almost triple the initial projections.

Streetcar Types

Since its earliest conception, the streetcar has changed shape many times. Today, three varieties prevail. Each style has its benefits and drawbacks, but all three can compliment the character of the neighborhoods in which they’re placed.

Restored Historic Streetcar


  • Historic character
  • Typically lowest-cost vehicle
  • Difficult to find identical vehicles and parts
  • Low passenger capacity
  • ADA access at stops
  • Slower operating speeds and passenger boarding

Heritage Style Streetcar


  • Historic character
  • Lower vehicle cost
  • Simplified fleet maintenance
  • Low passenger capacity
  • ADA access at stops
  • Slower operating speeds and passenger boarding

Modern Streetcar


  • Modern image
  • Higher vehicle cost
  • Simplified fleet maintenance
  • Larger passenger capacity
  • ADA access in vehicles
  • Faster operating speeds and passenger boarding

The Benefits of the Modern Roundabout

Image by Ken Sides, City of Clearwater
In 2007, the United States built its 1,000th roundabout. That same year, France built its 30,000th roundabout. Although countries around the world have taken the benefits of modern roundabouts to heart, this intersection solution has taken a little longer to grab hold in American municipalities. Nonetheless, as the benefits of this design become increasingly apparent (and needed), more and more intersections are following this circular model. So, what makes roundabouts so desireable?

Roundabouts Reduce Environmental Impacts

According to a study in Time Magazine, roundabouts cut hydrocarbon emissions at intersections by as much as 42%. By reducing idling, ten circular intersections in Virginia were found to save 200,000 gallons of gas each year. The “Gateway Roundabout” in Clearwater, Florida, replaced three signalized intersections and one stop-controlled intersection with a single two-lane traffic circle. Stop delays–and therefore emissions–were reduced by 68%. Likewise, similar interventions in Kansas were found to ease traffic delays by an average of 65%.

Roundabouts Are Safer by Design

Reduced risk when replacing intersections with roundabouts.Each year, over 30,000 individuals die in car crashes in the United States– and that doesn’t include the even greater number of annual crashes involving injuries to drivers and pedestrians. One solution to these high figures is the replacement of signalized and stop-controlled intersections with roundabouts.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety found that replacing conventional intersections with roundabouts reduced overall collisions by 37%, collisions involving injuries by 75%, and collisions involving fatalities by 90%. Moreover, collisions with pedestrians were reduced by 40%.

Roundabouts Move More Cars

According to the FHWA, a single-lane roundabout can handle up to 2,500 vechilces per hour. It would take two travel lanes (and usually left and right turn lanes) in each direction to match that capacity. In other words, roundabouts handle more traffic with less pavement.


Overall, the benefits of these modern traffic circles are clear. While most traffic designers have caught on, it’s now up to local municipalities to allow for the conversion of conventional intersections.



Panama Pacifico: A New City Center at the Heart of the Americas

Panama Pacifico is pioneering true urbanism at a city and regional scale in Panama. The project was launched several years ago and has been an unprecedented financial success. London and Regional’s development efforts at Panama Pacifico have established a core business center with over 170 multi-national companies which employ over 7000 people in over two million square feet of on-site work space.


Panama Pacifico Town Center Master Planned Community Latin America


To complement this financial success, Canin Associates has been engaged to develop enhanced placemaking strategies for the next phase of development in the community’s Town Center. “One of our prime tasks is crafting a plan for the heart of this new city,” says Brian Canin, who views this as a complex intervention involving redevelopment, adaptive reuse, and repositioning much of the existing infrastructure inherited from the old military base.


To do this, we assembled a diverse team from our urban planning, architecture, and landscape architecture studios, and traveled to Central America to lead an in-depth charette. Focusing on the site’s natural assets as our inspiration, we identified powerful placemaking opportunities by designing a series of urban plazas and connecting them to the Grand Park, the centerpiece of Panama Pacifico.


2014.07.08 PP Plaza 2


The opportunity to create an iconic, 14-acre public park amenity in the middle of this new city benefits the community in two ways. First, it improves property values. Contrary to what we often find in the United States and other countries, urban residents in Panama value the proximity to quality public parks as much or more than a view of the ocean. The second piece of the community-building puzzle that the Grand Park brings to the table is its direct connection to nature. Through public parks, conservation areas, and a Master Trail System, Panama Pacifico is able to create an intimate connection to the natural scenery that surrounds the site.


In addition to its direct link to nature, Panama Pacifico will soon see a more literal connection to the region: lightrail. With a new rail line planned to extend westward of Panama City, the project sits in an ideal location to be directly connected to the region with state-of-art transit. Another connection to the region will be, of course, major roads. While the existing street network provides an adaptable framework for future development, clever interventions in both wayfinding and landscaping will transform current arterials into welcoming boulevards.


With a Town Center and strong outward connections, placemaking in Panama Pacifico will continue to create an important urban node in the economic development of Panama.



Canin’s Jurgen Duncan at Florida Engineers in the Classroom

Canin Associates Jurgen Engineers in the Classroom Florida

Earlier this summer, Jurgen Duncan spent some time with curious fifth graders as part of the Florida Engineers in the Classroom program. To further STEM programs in public schools around the state, presenters from a variety of fields each gave 20-minute presentations to five or six classes. The hands-on workshops gave kids the opportunity to engage in real-world scenarios in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Jurgen, Canin Associates’ transportation designer, made roadway design fun and engaging by using an HO Slot race track. Other topics in the Florida Engineers in the Classroom program included:


  •  Airport Design – The kids get a chance to design an airport layout on paper after hearing about some of the key elements that are considered in Airport Design.
  •  Candyland – Structural in nature. This is where the kids get to design and build a town from the ground up using only licorice, gummy bears and toothpicks.
  •  Chemical Engineering – Engineering Mike mixes things up!
  •  Drainage – The kids learn about how water flows and how different size pipes allow more/less water to flow through them.
  •  Geotech – Typically includes a large drill rig. The kids get a chance to see the rig go into the ground and pull up a soil sample. The kids get to look at and touch the sample while learning about Geotechnical Engineering.
  •  GPS – The kids get to work hands-on with surveyors and learn the nuances behind surveying and Global Positioning Systems
  •  Magnetism – Materials available include copper pipe, magnets, and ball bearings. Show how magnetic brakes work and Newton cradle of conservation of energy.
  •  Park Design – The kids get to design a park on paper after learning about the important aspects of perk design.
  •  Simple Machine – Materials available spool, paint stirrer, ping pong ball and Dixie cup.  Describe fulcrum, lever, projectile, and launch/recovery vehicle, via see saw example and catapult.
  •  Surveying – Traditional methods of demonstrating surveying.
  •  Town Design – The kids get to design a town after learning about the important planning activities involved in designing a town.
  •  What is an Engineer? – This is a pre-made PowerPoint presentation, whereby all of the various Engineering fields are discussed. The presentation includes sound clips and movies to help hold their interest.


Canin Associates to Present at 2014 SEBC

SEBC 2014 Canin Associates Architects


On Friday, July 25, 2014, Canin Associates’ Tony Weremeichik will present at the 2014 Southeast Builders Conference (SEBC). Now in its 36th year, the SEBC has been a meeting place for building industry professionals from the areas of contracting, remodeling, architecture, engineering, and development. The three-day conference includes exhibits by more than 265 companies, as well as offering over 40 continuing education credits worth of workshops, panels, and presentations.


Together with Lisa Dilts of Compspring Architectural Design Solutions, Tony Weremeichik will lead an architecture and design discussion from 2:30 to 4:00PM in room 205C. The presentation will let you:


“Discover leading trends in today’s hot floor plan and elevation designs that resonate with target buyers at challenging price points even in new housing typologies” –with cool new features that are driving home sales. Learn to capture Single Women and Baby Boomers. Size homes the right way – clever 1,400 to 1,600 sq. ft. homes plans designed right with efficiency and feature in mind. You’ll take away innovative ideas for rooms that buyers didn’t even know they wanted…and how these details make a difference!


For a complete schedule of the event and to register, please click here.



The Value of International Planning

International Planning and Architecture, Florida Bahamas


As an idea-driven firm, working abroad is especially thrilling for us. To offer our urban planning services to communities in other countries is a unique and rewarding experience. There are many benefits to this type of work, but also certain requirements you must be aware of before embarking on this endeavor. We have found that creativity, adaptability, and motivation are major factors in international planning.


Creativity in International Planning


International planning is a different beast, but one that can bring many benefits, including the ability to be even more creative. Often, it’s a challenge to implement placemaking strategies in the United States because the policies in place don’t always support new and “unproven” designs. In many Latin American countries, however, the lack of bureaucracy makes is easier for creative ideas to flow. The ability to innovate brings freshness to the planning profession.


Travel itself is a driving force behind creativity. Exploring different forms of urbanism by experiencing them first hand is a pleasure for any urban planner or architect. International planning adds inspiration and knowledge about the built environment that can be applied to both current and future projects.


Adapting to a Unique Context


International planning is professionally stimulating because in addition to being creative, you must be adaptive. Each location has its unique requirements. For example, security features are very important for Columbian projects, where guarded gates and CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design) are common elements.


It’s also important to remember that you, as the planner or architect, are part of that context. Are you being hired for your American point of view to attract US clients, or did they pick you for your ability to understand the local vernacular? In European countries like Germany, a traditional design is difficult to market amidst the local historical buildings. Countries like Mexico, however, appreciate strong understanding of local architecture in both resorts and master-planned communities.


International Planning and  Architecture Croatia Resort Design


International Planning = Staff Motivation


Planning abroad is a highly concentrated, thought-packed initiative. With quick turnaround times and tight deadlines, a design team is motivated to craft a complete vision for the client during a single trip. Generally, our goal is to provide more ideas in rough form, rather than fewer ideas in finished form. Often, we want our ideas endorsed by the client, and then at home we package them properly. The amount of work a team accomplishes in a short amount of time is a rewarding and motivating experience.


A Checklist for International Planning


Finally, preparation is everything when planning abroad. Some must-haves include:

  • A good proposal: Get concurrent with the client on objectives; there should be no lack of clarity.
  • Advanced preparation: Know what will happen, who will do what, and when. Scheduling is essential to make the most of a client’s time.
  • The right team: International planning can be a burden on overhead, so every team member must count. However, planning abroad can be a great mentoring opportunity. Take a risk by giving a younger associate this experience.
  • The right communication approach: We have had great success with classic sketches, but many clients appreciate our ability to create a 3D SketchUp fly-through in a short amount of time. Also, plan what types of communication technologies are most appropriate for your client.


Canin Wins First Place Whole House Renovation at 2014 Parade of Homes

Our team at the Canin Associates Architectural Design Studio is thrilled to announce that our retro-inspired home remodel earned First Place – Whole House Renovation in the 2014 Greater Orlando Builders Association Parade of Homes™ Remodel Showcase.

Mid-Century Modern Renovation

Mid-Century Modern Renovation

With partners Hardwick General Contracting, we immersed ourselves in Florida’s rich mid-century modern tradition to completely redesign an existing home to meet today’s needs. You can learn more about this project in our post, Retro-Renovation: How to Bring New Life to an Outdated Floor Plan.



What in the World is a Woonerf?

What is a Woonerf

If you’re a civically minded urban planner or citizen, then you’ve dreamed of streets that mix residential with commercial uses, where cars drive slowly, and the pedestrian is king. Most likely, what you’ve been longing for is a woonerf, a Dutch concept that translates to “living street.” In the United States, woonerf’s cousin—the “complete street”—is creating a lot of buzz. And rightly so: both streets feature human-centered design principles and improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists. So, the question remains: What makes a street complete and what makes it a woonerf?


The Woonerf and its History


2014.05.22 Placemaking in Maitland, FL - Master PlanOver the past decade, the popularity of complete streets has steadily grown in the United States. Like the woonerf, the American complete street takes the focus off of the automobile and instead spotlights pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation. However, the woonerf takes it one step further: the distinction between pedestrian and vehicular space is blurred and virtually non-existent. Through the absence of sidewalk boundaries, curbs, and distinct lanes, those on foot and bike have equal access to the road as do cars. Speed is limited to “walking speed” (about 4 mph) and the design enforces this through curving roads and the use of public amenities such as playground equipment. Speed-bumps, which don’t add to the pedestrian experience, are not used.


Although its true implementation has been limited in the US, the woonerf concept has continued to appear in national publications in recent years, including the New York Times. While it may be brand-new to Americans, this smart design has been applied to over 6,000 Dutch streets. As a backlash to post-war, auto-centered street design, woonerfs (or woonerven) started in the 1970s and remain popular today.


Why should we use Woonerfs?


Woonerfs are commonly translated as “living streets,” but more exactly the name means “living yard.” In many places where private outdoor space is limited—as is the case in older European towns or any large city—the street acts as another outlet. For residents of a woonerf, the public space in front of their homes is a place to play, socialize, and engage in the community.


In addition to the community-building principles of woonerven, there are substantial safety improvements that have made them a success: In Dutch areas that have adopted the concept, traffic accidents dropped by 40% or more. Although cities often implement woonerfs in residential areas, they also support placemaking in denser mixed-use corridors. One local example of how a woonerf could be used to revamp a city’s core is the Maitland, Florida, case study.


Woonerf by the Numbers


  • The Netherlands feature over 6,000 woonerf zones.
  • Around 2 million people live in these Dutch woonerven.
  • Traffic accidents dropped by 40% or more in woonerf zones.
  • Over 70 of these zones exist in England and Wales, called “home zones.” The concept is also popular in other European countries, especially Germany.
  • Over 400 US cities have or are implementing woonerf-inspired complete streets.



Canin Associates’ Eliza Harris on Orange TV


Eliza Harris on Orange TVOn Wednesday, May 28 at 7:00pm, Orange County Live! will discuss the topic of sustainability. Canin’s own Eliza Harris will be one of the gusts, who, along with John Martinez and Brandon Tidwell, will represent the Sustainability Committee. Further guests include Susan Caswell (Chair of the Community Subcommittee), Jennifer Szaro (Renewable Energy Manager with OUC), Yulita Osuba (Deputy General Manager, Orange County Convention Center), Carla Bell Johnson (Chair of the Mobility Subcommittee), and Dr. Richard Tyson (Manager, Orange County Cooperative Extension Division).


Before the show, take a look at the Orange County Sustainability Plan, which was presented by Chairman John Martinez at the May 13th Board of County Commissioners meeting.


We hope you will tune in and that you’ll help us encourage others to watch and participate via call in or chat room.


Ways to Watch

  • Brighthouse channel 199
  • Comcast Channel 9
  • AT&T U-Verse channel 99
  • Local Digital Broadcast Channel 29-2
  • streaming


Placemaking and Living Streets: A Maitland, FL Case Study

Maitland, Florida, is a small city of about 15,000 residents. Located just north of Orlando, it is home to a network of museums, a popular independent movie theater that plays host to the annual Florida Film Festival, and beautiful parks. Despite the city’s amenities, one albatross remains: the lack of a cohesive, walkable center of activity. Now, with three potential projects in the pipeline for downtown Maitland, the City Center officials have been planning for since the 1990s may finally come to fruition.


Placemaking through Woonerf - Living StreetFor almost two decades, placemaking has been one of the community’s top priorities. Between 1998 and 2003, community workshops and designs by planners have solidified a vision for the city’s Town Square, complete with an in-depth set of design standards. From these efforts has sprung the city’s first new anchor: an urban city hall with an adjacent fire station.


With three development proposals planned for Maitland, creating a new city center is now closer to a reality than ever before. To optimize these new developments, city officials and designers will need to create a cohesive community gathering place.


Placemaking through Living Streets


For over a decade, Canin Associates has selected a University of Miami student to research an urban design topic each summer. In 2012, Gabriel Williams worked with Canin Associates staff and faculty advisor Jaime Correa to design downtown Maitland’s Independence Lane as a “Living Street” envisioning a striking and lively new center for the community. A Woonerf, the Dutch term for Living Street, is a shared street that prioritizes pedestrians while still allowing cyclists and drivers. Shared space, traffic calming, and very low speeds make these living streets beneficial to both placemaking and pedestrian safety.


In Woonerfs (or, more correctly, woonerven), automobile pathways are integrated to create a calm and safe residential environment, focusing on plantings, benches, and bike racks. Rather than having separate sidewalks, the entire width of Independence Lane would be designed to allow free pedestrian movement. The plan also shows this shared street continuing extended to connect to points further north and south.


Placemaking in Maitland, Florida - Orlando Urban Planners


With the former city hall slated for demolition, the team saw a perfect opportunity to place a public park on the city-owned land. Mixed-use buildings in an urban configuration could contain continuous ground floor retail overlooking the new park.


Placemaking Urban Planners in Maitland / Orlando, Florida


Tying together the existing urban fabric in a retrofit can be a challenge. To achieve stylistic and spatial cohesion, placemakers must juggle an existing arrangement of asymmetrical volumes, setbacks, and construction techniques. An urban plaza and a new contemporary building are designed to reconcile the elegant and classical proportions of the city hall with the modern geometry of the neighboring bank.


Today, with a fresh opportunity to take another leap towards an active city center, the City of Maitland has the chance to refocus on the importance of placemaking and master planning. Only if people truly feel welcome will this new district become successful.




Millenials Want to Be Green: Taking Sustainability to the Next Level

Millenials Seek Green Homes

Labeled as the generation to turn around the housing market, Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) represent a huge new segment of current and future homebuyers. But what has garnered them so much attention in the world of urban planning, design, and development? One major characteristic of this group is its attitude towards wanting to a live a more conscious lifestyle. Studies love to label Gen Y as “green” and “sustainable.” But delving deeper, new research shows that Millennials are thinking greener than they are acting. This presents the perfect opportunity for home builders to create products that help Millennials reach their sustainability goals, while creating the type of independent and customizable homes they desire.

One of the major reasons green building practices have piqued the interest of homebuilders in the past decade is the overwhelming support for them in market surveys. According to a recent McGrann Associates survey, a whopping 91% of respondents said that they would be likely to consider green or energy efficient features in a home—if the cost isn’t drastically different. This attitude applies to both new and existing homes. Interestingly enough, the two groups that seemed to know the most about green building practices were those aged 25 to 34 and those aged 55 to 64. In short, Millennials and Baby Boomers (the two demographic heavyweights that represent today’s largest home-buying segments) are most interested in leading a green lifestyle.

What “Green” Means to Millenials

Gen Y is a generation that equates “green” with “high-tech.” In fact, according to a Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Survey, a substantial 84% of 18 to 35-year-olds say that high-tech appliances are must-haves. The three most popular high-tech home features are energy efficient washers and dryers, security systems, and smart thermostats. After “green” and “sustainable,” Millennials are on the lookout for the next buzzword: “high-tech.”

Still, it’s important to realize that this generation interprets “being green” differently than other generations. Most notably, according to the 2013 Eco Pulse Study, Millennials are more attitudinally green than behaviorally green. While they theoretically support everything sustainable, few practice what they preach. For builders, the key is to make a conscious lifestyle easier to implement. Gardens for growing food at home and places to store recyclables are inexpensive quick fixes for creating greener homes. Furthermore, Millennials are more likely to buy homes that already feature energy efficient appliances and upgraded thermostats, rather than installing them themselves. This is where builders can step in and make homes more appealing to Millennials by supporting their desire to live a green lifestyle.

In addition to technology-driven homes, it’s undeniable that Millennials are seeking adaptive places to live. Cookie-cutter is out, unique is in: This generation wants more than the stereotypical luxury home their parents always dreamed of. In lieu of mega-mansions, 77% of Gen Y-ers actually prefer “essential” homes. These are smaller and more adaptive than conventional houses. For builders, that means flex rooms should also serve as home offices, in-home technology outweighs curb appeal upgrades, and houses must be as unique as their inhabitants. And if there’s something for Millennials to fix up themselves, even better (at least according to the 30% of survey respondents who are ready to get their hands dirty in a renovation).

Millenials value Simplified Curb Appeal in new home trends

Millenials Want to Be Sustainable Outside the Home

For Millennials, having a green attitude isn’t confined to the home itself. The National Association of Home Builders found that 30% of first-time home buyers (generally of Gen Y), select a home based on its location to where they work. This is especially underscored by reports of automakers left flabbergasted by this generation’s seeming indifference to owning a car. With Gen Y auto sales down and only 54% of Americans getting their drivers licenses before turning 18, the need for walkable, transit-conscious housing is sure to increase in the coming years.

This generation may be more aware of the total cost of ownership than any other. Transportation costs and commute time are often as important to Millennials as the opportunity to reduce their utility bills. The McGrann Associates survey found that 83% of respondents understood that the initially higher investment in green building practices is eventually evened out. Like most investments, Gen Y has the benefit of time when it comes to reaping the rewards of their green homes.

Millennials are an important demographic for builders. Their habits are reflected in their immense numbers, giving them the ability to change the course of American home building. While their interest in living an eco-conscious, high-tech lifestyle should be celebrated, many Gen Y-ers lack the resources to translate their attitudes into actions. By providing unique, efficient, and progressive homes, designers and builders can begin to bridge the gap between what Millennials want, and what they can attain.

This article also appeared in Green Home Builder Magazine.

Retro-Renovation: How to Bring New Life to an Outdated Floor Plan

Florida Mid-Century Modern Architecture - Update and Renovation

Florida has a rich architectural history when it comes to mid-century modern buildings. While the style has become a mainstay in sun-kissed cities like Miami and Orlando, some original features have not stood the test of time. Luckily, a skilled architect can revamp an existing structure to fit today’s needs without losing its historical charm. One example of bringing new life to an old building is 3107 Ardsley Drive, which is featured in this year’s Orlando Parade of Homes.

Photo by Hardwick General Contracting, Inc.


Elements of a Mid-Century Renovation


What makes the Ardsley Drive renovation especially successful is that the designers salvaged many of the original buildings blocks. For example, the keeping of specific walls preserved much of the building’s initial shape. Within the walls, however, an open floor plan accommodates the family’s contemporary lifestyle. Other vintage elements, such as the fireplace, add to the building’s history.


Updated Mid-Century Modern Floorplan

At 3,800 square feet, the four-bedroom, four-bathroom home offers an expansive everyday living space. The house’s size and open-concept layout easily meet today’s needs. Additionally, spacious closets and an oversized garage offer smart storage solutions.


To further the feeling of openness, architects removed visual barriers for a floor plan that now blurs the separation of indoor and outdoor spaces. This seamless transition is supported by natural light from an abundance of clerestory windows. Furthermore, all living spaces (and even the master suite) now feature stunning views of the adjacent lake.


Lastly, this complete remodel afforded architects and builders the opportunity to implement energy-efficient design standards and construction practices. From new windows to energy-saving appliances, the home takes “being green” to heart.


With its sleek transitional-contemporary design and energy-conscious implementation, this retro renovation creates a strong connection between Florida’s vintage architecture and today’s living needs. Having breathed new life into a stagnant design, it’s safe to say that Ardsley Drive is ready for another 50 years.

Tactical Urbanism and Site Previtalization in New Communities

Tactical urbanism is often seen as a strategy for existing communities. However, brand-new master-planned communities can benefit from tactical urbanism, too. Through previtalization, a new Main Street can spring to life in an authentic and economically feasible way.

Tactical Urbanism Site Previtalization in New, Master-Planned Communities

What is tactical urbanism?

Tactical urbanism is an umbrella term for a set of strategies to create or improve urban places incrementally. A hallmark of tactical urbanism is the use of lower cost, lightweight interventions. Communities implement these strategies as short-term measures with an eye towards establishing a track record of success.

As defined in the leading go-to guide, Tactical Urbanism 2: Short-Term Action, Long-Term Change (2012), tactical urbanism is a deliberate approach to community building that includes:

  1. A phased approach;
  2. Local ideas for local planning challenges;
  3. Short-term commitment and realistic expectations;
  4. Low-risk, with the possibility of a high reward; and
  5. The development of social capital between citizens, institutions, and non-profits.

What is site previtalization?

Tactical urbanists use site previtalization in the early stages of a community. The goal is to lay the groundwork for robust and authentic future developments by inhabiting the location of a future main street or civic space, incubating unique businesses, and/or bringing people together on the site. Different design tools and programming options provide a flexible approach to preliminary site activation.

The design tools for previtalization are varied. They range from prefabricated architecture (such as small cottages) to mobile vendors. Other indoor and outdoor spaces may be constructed on-site with recycled materials. For example, shipping pallets and containers can provide structural support. Tactical urbanists strategically organize these structures to create a semi-permanent business district.

Next, programming options attract residents to these new districts. Pop-up shops and open markets might happen daily, weekly, or monthly. Other efforts, including urban agriculture or temporary parks, occupy empty lots until they are ready for development. Often, previtalization efforts encourage retail micro-mixing (multiple businesses in the same space).

Tactical Urbanism Site Previtalization

How is site previtalization applied?

Generally, a full build-out of a new community takes years or decades. Now, imagine if the energy and excitement of a new, master-planned community could be brought to life in a matter of weeks. Through site previtalization, communities can forge their identities and incubate businesses before permanent buildings arrive at the scene.

Previtalization has many benefits for emerging districts. First, phasing can roll out a development in an economically conscious way. Temporary stands or markets create a unique shopping district before permanent buildings are financially supportable. Second, this flexibility attracts business owners by giving them a chance to test their concepts and incubate businesses in a lower-risk environment. Lastly, and most importantly, previtalization in partnership with future tenants and potential residents seeds an authentic sense of community.

Master-Planned Communities in a New Economy

Inarguably, conventional growth patterns coupled with the recent economic rollercoaster have left urban planners scratching their heads. A major question remains: How can we create new, master-planned communities with a robust framework to prepare for an unpredictable housing market in the future? To find the answer, municipalities and developers are looking back at historical growth patterns for inspiration. But instead of only using a New Urbanist design approach, planners are focusing on economic factors more than ever before.


The City of Edgewater, Florida, has taken this new approach to heart. The approval of a form-based code will guide the 20-year build-out of Restoration, the city’s Sustainable Community Development District. As noted in Better Cities & Towns, Restoration is the largest post-recession traditional neighborhood development planned to date. To ensure its success, the 1,315 acre project must balance two factors: economic feasibility and smart design.


To guarantee economic viability, the Restoration code allows a frugal, incremental build-out. The master plan includes a variety of phasing options responsive to market conditions. It begins with single-story commercial buildings and modestly-sized homes, building up to an eight-story town center that will likely be developed in later stages. Furthermore, businesses will have a great deal of flexibility on where they can locate to meet the demand of new residents’ changing numbers and needs.


Historical growth pattern in Restoration features a multi-way boulevard ready for a streetcar.


The hallmark of Restoration’s traditional design will be a transit-ready boulevard designed to accommodate a four-mile streetcar system. Other important factors for creating a livable environment include:

  • Providing a range of different environments, from residential districts to mixed-use blocks.
  • Building forms, regardless of their uses, must respond to a walkable scale.
  • Organizing buildings around an urban grid.
  • Placing green spaces in primary locations to create a healthy public realm.


The goal of Restoration’s code is to allow a new, walkable place to evolve authentically, while remaining resilient through changing market conditions. A traditional development will be built to create an active community with the resilience to weather future market fluctuations.


Appealing to a Booming Market: 5 Must-Haves for the Baby Boomer Generation

With a growing number of baby boomers looking for their ideal new homes, designers and developers are turning their attention to this explosive new market. When creating the perfect baby boomer residence, architects must strike a balance between features that are needed now, and features that will be essential in the coming years.

Our country’s diversifying housing market has made it possible to craft specific homes for every niche, leading to accelerated sales and more satisfied residents. For the baby boomer generation, we’ve pinpointed five must-have elements that are important to every community’s success:

Baby Boomer Home Features

1. A Single-Story Experience

The ideal boomer home focuses on the present, but looks to the future: designs should feature a single-story experience for those who wish to age in place; an optional second story gives flexibility and extra space to those who need it.

2. Multi-Generational Living

What do retirees do with that second story when they no longer require it for themselves? Smart floor plan designs ensure that the house can be used for a single generation (baby boomers) or expanded for multi-generational living (baby boomers and their children or grandchildren).

3. Great Indoor/Outdoor Relationships

Many homebuyers move to Florida for one simple reason: the weather. To make the most of a transplant’s new lifestyle, homes should be designed with a focus on great indoor/outdoor relationships.

4. Parks and Street-Side Patios

Baby boomers will be looking for ways to meet their new neighbors. By socializing the street and promoting it as a community space through parks and street-side patios, residents have the opportunity to be part of an active neighborhood network.

5. Modern, Open Floor Plans

Finally, this is a generation whose members have worked hard to afford their dream homes, and what better way to enjoy it than with modern, open floor plans? A frontrunner in market research, open plans are perfect for living, dining, and entertaining.


By implementing these features, architects and developers can deliver homes that are tailored to the growing demand of baby boomers. Focusing on these five primary elements ensures that a house will become the perfect home, for now and in the years to come.

Visit our Portfolio for these and other exciting new market-focused home designs.


Curb Appeal: 2013 Design Trends in Exterior Home Design

Home Design is like a fashion show – with the neighborhood streets as the catwalk. For as much as apparel design changes with the seasons, so it does with home design. Newer designs emerge and classics are reintroduced and enhanced. Elevation styles are important to buyers. They have an idea of what their dream home might look like – so deliver it. They don’t want to settle for anything less…and they don’t need to.

I’ve heard Realtors say that the two most important things in real estate are location and lifestyle. Well, I contend that the third most important thing must be curb appeal. Curb appeal is the attractive quality of a home’s appearance. A home is usually considered appealing when it has a positive, striking character and charm that adds value to the neighborhood.

Today’s new home buyers tend to agree, and curb appeal ranks high on many of the latest consumer preference surveys. Buyers say that they:

  • No longer want to buy a home just for resale value
  • Plan to stay in their home longer
  • Are once again seeking “pride of ownership”
  • Prefer not to have a cookie-cutter home
  • Are looking for something fresh and new, especially Gen Y buyersThe first impression of a home is forged the instant a buyer pulls up to the curb. Make an impact with an architectural style that is attractive, not forgettable. Do not rely on architectural cosmetics to dress up a front elevation, but rather create a well-designed style that gives the home a personality that fits within the neighborhood. Entice them to stop the car and get out before they decide to drive on another builder’s model or the next listing.

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Mobility Planning for Long Term Economic Development

At Canin Associates, we like to study history and precedents. It’s useful to know where you’ve been if you want to decide where you want to go in the future. For a while now I have personally been fascinated with the Dark Ages, that period in medieval history when society lost track of its roots and culture for 800 to 1,000 years. So what happened in the Dark Ages? Essentially the great cultural institutions and philosophy developed by the Greeks and adopted by the Romans, all completely disappeared with the sack of Rome in 410 AD.

This is when the Huns, the Goths and other barbarians overran and destroyed the Roman Empire and wiped out all the institutional knowledge that had been available to the population at large. This culture however was kept alive in select monasteries where the monks painfully recorded this information by hand and passed it on within the church. But for everyone else in the general population it was lost until the Renaissance which occurred in the late 14 Century. This cultural knowledge was widely rediscovered with the invention of the printing press when it became possible to widely disseminate the information that was lost. This led to the birth of the Renaissance and an explosion of creative ideas. Beautiful new towns emerged and many still exist as wonderful places to this day.

In the 1800’s in the U.S. we had the Industrial Revolution. This led to a great influx of population from the countryside to cities. In the late 1870’s this transitioned into what we know as the “Golden Age of Urbanism” which is the period from 1870 to 1940, approximately 70 years. This is a very interesting growth period where our urban environments transitioned from dependence on the horse and buggy to the electrification of cities and we built streetcars and gradually buses and automobiles were added to the mix. In this Golden Age we had compact patterns of urbanism. We had mixed uses. Work, living and shopping all occurred in very close proximity. This is still in evidence in many of our big cities and also in many smaller communities like Winter Park, FL Boulder, CO, and Santa Barbara, CA.

Then we have the period of 1940 to 2010, in which we experienced vast changes in urban pattern and the physical expansion of urban areas made possible by the pervasive ownership of automobiles and the resulting explosion of Suburbia. This occurred after World War II. I think in some ways we can argue that this is like our Dark Age, in that several generations have completely lost touch and have no institutional memory of what it is like to live in mixed-use, walkable, bikable, transit enhanced environments that are not totally dependent on the automobile. And of course we can put metrics to this period to inform us in more depth of what we may have won and what we may have lost in this evolution.

At Canin Associates, we believe we can recreate a Golden Age of urbanism for a new Urban Renaissance in the 21st century that is compact, multi-modal, that attracts high-value corporate businesses and the talented creative class that we know are drawn to place-based exciting vibrant communities. This type of mobility planning and urbanism – which is the core element in this way of managing growth – can be a very powerful regional economic development driver.

So let’s look at all of this in more detail. Please enjoy this presentation that is based on the discussion above. Let us know what you think! This presentation was first delivered at the APA Florida Conference in the fall of 2012.

Brian C. Canin