Saving Nature with Walkable Urbanism


  • Use walkability to preserve waterfront access and conserve landscapes
  • Craft a public design and dialogue process to increase the odds of successful plan adoption
  • Use capital investments, regulatory changes, and partnerships to implement plans


This course explores how two very different communities – Davidson, North Carolina, and Beaufort, South Carolina – used walkable urbanism to preserve their open lands and open up access to nature while encouraging infill and redevelopment in town and immediately adjacent to their historic communities. Beaufort used its award-winning Civic Master Plan (2014) to address key strategies for protecting and expanding the public waterfront and expanding its natural infrastructure, while expanding downtown, strengthening its neighborhoods and corridors, and focusing on economic development. This plan has enabled the city to focus its capital investments, create partnerships, attract grants and outside funding, and ultimately adopt a form-based code for the entire city in 2017. Davidson, meanwhile, found that the next new wave of regional growth threatened rural and natural areas that the town had protected for decades. In response, the town adopted a new award-winning plan in 2016 to preserve 63 percent (2,000 acres) of its existing rural lands through the use of inventive, flexible, and replicable standards permitting walkable development in a variety of formats ranging from conservation zoning requiring 70 percent open space to small-scale, mixed-use "hamlets."