Designing a Walkable Suburban Landscape: New Urbanism and Light Rail as Methodologies


TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


The suburban landscape is a landscape of opportunity. Historically, the suburban landscape has been a desirable place for living. Because it demands the use of automobiles, it is also a landscape undesirable for pedestrians. Optimistically, through principles of New Urbanism, walkability, and mass transportation via light rail, there is an opportunity to transform the auto dominated suburban landscape into one that promotes walkability.

Located in the suburbs of Alexandria, Virginia, an atypical intersection is analyzed for its characteristics of walkability. This intersection consists of several major roads converging to create a location overly dominated by busy roads and automobiles. Though there are accommodations that signify this intersection is also a place for pedestrians, a walkability checklist and a walkability study prove otherwise.

The author investigates transforming this otherwise unwalkable landscape into one that promotes walkability by providing a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable experience for suburban pedestrians. Design intentions are focused on preserving much of the existing land use and not re-developing suburbia into a new urban center. Yet, through using new urbanist principles for walkability, there is the opportunity to create a new suburban center.



POD, Light Rail, Walkability, TOD, Suburban Landscape, New Urbanism