Advocacy for the Public Realm
Through the public design charrette process...
Watkins led dozens of charrettes and participated in countless others while with DPZ. He continues to use the charrette process in his own practice. During the charrette, Watkins shares with stakeholders the principles on which sound designs are based, while the locals share their knowledge of the specific place with the team. Watkins generates stakeholder support for the masterplan and related documents through building consensus—invaluable during the approval and construction processes to follow. Watkins holds the National Charrette Institute’s Charrette System Certificate and Management & Facilitation Certificate.
Through policy documents…
The SmartCode (developed by DPZ).
The SmartCode is an “open source” model code or code template. Including Watkins’ work and that of many others, as of December 31, 2017, 86 Smart-Codes have been locally calibrated & adopted; 59 others are in progress in 46 states & 14 countries as reported at: http://www.placemakers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/CodesStudy_May2013_WEB.htm. They impact a population of over 17,000,000 people.
Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) Ordinance, Columbus, Ohio, 2000.
This TND Ordinance written by Watkins was a prototype of the SmartCode. From the start, the ordinance was to be mandatory for those properties where it was adopted, which led the local builders association to follow the development of this code very closely. Watkins carefully navigated among widely divergent views and the resulting ordinance was successfully adopted.
The Kentlands Code, Gaithersburg, Md., 1988 (DPZ), Revised 1993.
After five years of construction the builders had shown Watkins most of the loopholes in the original Kentlands Code. As the developer prepared to put its first resident-member on the property owner’s association board, Watkins suggested they first revise the Code. Over the years Watkins had tracked the refinements he felt were in order so when the developer agreed to the revision, the loopholes were easily closed. These and other “lessons learned” through implementation make Watkins a sought after author of design codes and speaker on the subject.
Seaside Code, Seaside, Fla. 2012 – 2017.
When the time came to update The Seaside Code, Robert Davis and Andres Duany tapped Watkins to collaborate with Town Architect Ty Nunn, GM Pam Avera, and Doris Goldstein, Seaside's legal counsel, on the effort. His familiarity with DPZ, Seaside and his long history as Town Architect in other communities, led to his involvement in the effort.
Camana Bay, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. 2009 – 2011.
The team of Torti/Gallas and Watkins was selected to provide masterplan refi nement, architectural design and Town Architect services, including a Design Code for the first phase of DPZ’s masterplan. Watkins refined the Smart Code for the Cayman Islands (initially calibrated by DPZ), contributed to the planning and architectural efforts, and spear-headed the preparation of the Camana Bay Design Code.
Leander Smart Code, Leander, Tex., 2005
The City of Leander, Texas wanted to change their development pattern from sprawl to that of traditional, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, so in 2005 they adopted a SmartCode. Its details and Regulating Plan were resisted by developers. Recognizing that the issue was not in the principles of form-based coding, but in their application, the City hired Michael Watkins Architect and Sandy Sorlien to work with residents, developers and the city planning staff to rewrite their 2005 SmartCode to encourage and incentivize development.
Through promoting the principles…
Watkins readily accepts opportunities to promote principles and accomplishments that advance the quality of the public realm. His Academic Involvement, Lectures and Presentations attest to this. Watkins frequently gives tours of his work, most notably Kentlands and Norton Commons, to professional colleagues, municipal staff and officials and the general public from both the U.S. and abroad.