Planning Principle #6: Mixed Up

Planning Principle #6: Mixed Up

By: Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA, LEED AP   |   @bialosky_arch

Many people hold an idealized view of Main Street America with the flats over shops and small sized blocks of the turn of twentieth century. The advent of the automobile and unfettered urban growth with increased densities in the next half of the century engendered the need for zoning regulations to separate uses deemed to be noxious, to deal with light, sound, and pollution and to keep the peace. As is often the case, the pendulum must swing from extreme to extreme before finding its way back to the center. Successful (urban) Community Design seeks to find a middle ground with increased density and mixed uses.

6. Mixed Up: The right programmatic blend of uses and the way in which the functions interact should set the stage for a dynamic community environment. The placement and design of vertical and horizontal circulation along with key parings of complementary program uses and cross utilization opportunities should all be taken into consideration in order to create an active place for community to thrive.

There are many reasons to support a mix of uses. If we can live, work, shop and play within a few nearby neighborhoods, we greatly reduce our energy usage and dependence on transportation to get back a big part of our day typically spent on commuting. A mix of uses provides activity on the street at most hours of the day, enhancing overall security and providing the feeling of a vital community, rather than a place where the sidewalks are rolled up at night. Vertically integrated mixed uses provide the highest level of interest and interaction; although as we indicated in a previous article, co-locating them within a block presents some logistical challenges, and therefore expenses, that require special creativity to solve.

Disparate uses require their own public and private circulation, as well as access for service. Fortunately we have four sides to our blocks, all of which we want to activate so we can often use this to our advantage. Residential, office and retail uses all have their own structural requirements, some needing small span spaces and others large span spaces with different modules. Coordinating these modules and strategizing how to bring the loads to the ground without disruptive structural elements is often the biggest challenge of vertical integration. Of course they also require different types of mechanical systems and access to fresh air. While people enjoy a dynamic environment, most do not want to be continually assailed by the sounds or the odors of the restaurant downstairs. Thankfully, there are architectural answers to all of these issues. They are the result of increased density, but density is our friend, and actually helps to defray the cost of the solutions. Density brings vitality to a place, and by “mixing up”, we ensure that our blocks are lasting, desirable spaces to shop, work, dine and live.


We asked Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA, LEED AP, Senior Principal of Bialosky Cleveland to discuss the Seven Planning Principles his firm uses for community design. This is a closer look at Principle #6: Mixed Up.

Want to dig deeper? Join us on Wednesday, July 20 at 2 p.m. EST for a free webinar featuring Jack and his colleague David W. Craun, AIA, LEED AP. Principal and Director of Design at Bialosky Cleveland.


About the Firm: 

Bialosky ClevelandBialosky Cleveland is one of the region’s most successful architectural design firms, as evidenced by awards that honor the firm’s practice management, design excellence and commitment to community. The multi-disciplinary firm has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects as an AIA Ohio Gold Medal Firm, the highest honor awarded by its peers, in recognition of great depth and breadth, a collaborative environment, and having a cumulative effect on the profession over a substantial period of time.

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