Thursday, April 21, 2011

Latest D Mag Column

The new issue is up online along with my column. Find it here. One bit that didn't make the cut was a brief discussion about how we keep designing public spaces for "contemplation," and "seclusion," and whether that is even appropriate for downtown, on Main Street, where 100,000+ people come everyday to work. Here is the piece that was cut:

In defense of the wall, a media representative for Belo defended the wall to the Observer stating that the wall “was necessary for preserving the intimate feel of the garden.” However, if you’ve been to Thanksgiving Square anytime recently, you know that intimacy and a fortress of solitude means nobody is there to use the park. Furthermore, downtowns require a perception of safety and walls instill the opposite when you can’t see what is happening beyond it. We want the vitality created by lots of people in downtown yet design places for people to enjoy individually, even suggesting that others would spoil the experience. Perhaps the entire design concept of the garden is flawed in a place where 100,000 people visit each day to work, yet for it to be successful and used properly by its own definition, only one will be admitted at a time.

Bit that did make the cut:
Walls are antithetical to good urban design. Walls quarantine physical pathogens to the living system of cities, often referred to as Locally Undesirable Land Uses (LULUs). Typically with LULUs, incompatible projects wind up as neighbors—your house sitting next to, say, a lead smelter. But it doesn’t get much more complementary than putting a park next to a residential building, which is why parks drive up the value of residential land within walking distance. Urbanism is about agglomerating compatible projects so that the value of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Think of a jigsaw puzzle. Any two pieces have a relationship. Everything has its place. The closer the pieces, the stronger that relationship must be.