Envision Alachua Sector Plan and Detailed Specific Area Plans
Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc., Gainesville, FL
Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc., one of the largest private landowners in the nation, convened Envision Alachua to develop a long-term master plan for its property in Alachua County, Florida. The nearly three-year process has been distinguished by a comprehensive program of community and stakeholder engagement. During Phase I of Envision Alachua, the community defined a series of goals and planning principles, prioritizing large-scale conservation and job creation. In 2012, Plum Creek engaged Sasaki to join the project team and lead the land use analysis, planning, and design for Phase II. Building upon the public engagement process, Sasaki developed a long-term land use plan for approximately 60,000 acres. The resulting land use strategy balances future economic development with large-scale natural resource conservation and serves as the basis for the Envision Alachua Sector Plan. Upon approval of the Sector Plan, approximately 87% of the total lands (50,000 acres) will be permanently protected in conservation or agriculture, while 13% will be positioned for future development.
Sasaki's ongoing work in Alachua County is a prime example of our interdisciplinary approach to large scale planning—integrating the disciplines of planning, urban design, landscape, architecture, ecology, economics, and politics to create layers of innovative planning, land use strategies, and design solutions. The Sasaki land use strategy, which underpins the Envision Alachua Sector Plan, is informed by analysis and confluence of three infrastructure systems: natural, built, and social/knowledge. Natural infrastructure includes lands which contribute to a regional system of natural resources in Alachua County and beyond. The built infrastructure consists of lands served by substantial existing infrastructure which positions them as a focus for future economic development. The social/knowledge infrastructure includes local anchors such as University of Florida, Santa Fe College, Shands Hospital, Innovation Gainesville, and emerging private sector businesses, as well as adjacent population centers such as the City of Gainesville. The integration of these three systems through inspired 21st century community design provides an enduring structure to guide future development.
While the Envision Alachua Sector Plan sets the regulatory framework for development within four compact and walkable development hubs in East Alachua County, the Detailed Specific Area Plans (DSAP) provide the design vision for each development hub. Each hub is characterized by smart growth planning principles of development that is compact, integrated, multi-modal, employment-oriented, and mixed-use—all set within a resilient natural ecological framework and connected by green infrastructure. DSAP A is envisioned to be a national model for a new type of collaborative, translational mixed-use R&D cluster that brings together the major drivers of the knowledge economy: higher education, private corporations, public sector, and complementary R&D institutes oriented towards agri-technology. DSAP B's preliminary design concept is based on the notion of creating a 21st-century advanced manufacturing hub that provides a setting for the fusion of new ideas, partnerships, and facilities for large and small scale advanced manufacturing with strong connections to existing major road and railroad infrastructure to attract a new generation of employers to the region.
We talk a lot about interdisciplinary collaboration. And truthfully, so do many other firms. But at Sasaki, it’s more than a buzzword—it’s at the core of what we do. Our current work in Alachua County in north central Florida is a prime example. Our client, Plum Creek, the largest private landowner in the nation, has big ideas for their holdings in Alachua County.
Like the majority of our projects, Envision Alachua has a dedicated interdisciplinary design team. But in order to capture the full breadth and depth of the vision, the team invited the entire firm to contribute, generating layers of innovative planning and design solutions for Envision Alachua with all disciplines —planning, urban design, landscape, architecture, ecology, economics, and politics. We created a dedicated space to facilitate this hyper-collaboration, where, over the course of a week, the grand vision of Envision Alachua became increasingly defined and—most importantly—attainable.
We’re delighted to be able to share a slice of our process in this short video!