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Louisville Metro Streetscape Design Manual

A New Meaning to Street Life

In 2006, the Louisville Metro Planning and Design Services Department asked GS&P to help them establish definitive standards for the design and construction of roadways that welcome all user groups—not just cars, trucks and public transportation—but pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users and more. They also wanted the future design of streets to reflect their individual context—urban, suburban or rural; residential or commercial—rather than being one size fits all.

Responding to this request, the GS&P team merged the principles of the increasingly popular Complete Streets movement with Metro Louisville’s form-based development code to encourage that streets be designed in context with their surrounding areas. Complete Streets is a fairly new concept that encourages the design and redesign of streets to accommodate vehicles of all size and function, along with pedestrians of all ages and abilities. It has already achieved some success in Seattle, Chicago, Sacramento and Charlotte, as well as throughout Oregon and Massachusetts.

Louisville Metro had established a second tier of regulatory controls in addition to zoning known as Form Districts. Each Form District contains a unique set of regulations pertaining to mass, scale and compatibility of structures and uses, all in context with existing and emerging development for that area. This concept however, had never been applied to road design—and all roads in the Louisville Metro area shared the same existing standards.

Project manager Jon Henney, AICP, ASLA, and his team developed a design manual that managed to significantly change road design while balancing the demands of different user groups. The manual listed design objectives that included guidelines for planning and design of new and/or rebuilt streetscapes; context-sensitive design addressing the character of an area; and the functional classification of the roadway, for example, major or minor arterial, collector, local road, or alley/lane.

Design criteria were established to accommodate usage by pedestrians, cyclists, cars and transit vehicles. Other design elements such as street furnishings, lighting, trash receptacles, bike racks, parking meters and landscaping were incorporated. The manual also details intersections as well as transitions from different types of bicycle and pedestrian paths.

To ensure the intent of the Complete Streets Design Manual is understood, it addresses applicability issues and includes streetscape master plans and a section on “Next Steps.” According to Henney, both the manual and Complete Streets policy have been adopted by the Louisville Metro government. The manual is now being crafted into language that will become part of the city’s Land Development Code.

Christopher French, a Louisville Metro planner who managed the project, said, “The Streetscape project was an important first step in our community’s development of a Complete Streets policy. This project will lead to enhancements in our development regulations to promote the incorporation of context-sensitive design standards in future development projects.”


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Project Info

  • Client: Louisville Metro Planning & Design Services Department
  • Location: Lousville, KY, USA
  • Market: Land Planning and Design
  • Services: Planning, Transportation and Modal Planning
  • Team:
    • John M. Addington, ASLA Principal-in-Charge
    • John Pacyga, ASLA, LEED AP Landscape Architect
    • Tricia Smallwood, ASLA Landscape Architect
    • Jonathan D. Henney, AICP, ASLA Project Manager
    • Felicia Harper Planner
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