Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The tragic irony of wide streets, at StreetSense.

"The tragic irony in the current street design priorities that go, in order, speed, capacity, cost, safety" is a caption at just another web site I stumbled across: StreetSense.

Adapt · Grow · Prosper

StreetSense is a multi-disciplinary look at the challenges and opportunities that our cities, towns, and countrysides are facing. StreetSense is founded on the principle that the design of our environments cannot be left simply to architects and engineers. On the contrary, what is around us is a product of every discipline working, or not working, together to create the most practical response to the needs of a society. Our panel of contributors includes architects, urbanists, economists, developers, financiers, lawyers, and engineers. The goal is to make connections where there often is none. For example what does the cost of health care have to do with the way we build or how does regionalism protect our national and financial security? Through making uncommon links we arrive at common sense solutions to adapt, grow, and prosper in an ever-evolving world. Our approach relies on the principles of thrift “that which cause a ramifying series of solutions (Berry)."

StreetSense is built around conversations, observations, and creating a dynamic toolkit for practical community building.

For instance, an observation about owning the sidewalk.

Own the Sidewalk, by Joe Nickol (Street Sense)

... the end, it is about creating value.

And it is here where the role of the sidewalk comes into focus and where the activity between public and private realms takes root. No longer can sidewalks be value engineered out of the equation, disconnected or relegated to a single use. Layering design functions is critical to achieving the value they provide. They can be broad or intimate; flush to the street or raised; and shaded by galleries, awnings, arcades, or street trees. Sidewalks can be eaten upon, have chairs set up in them, performances performed in them, be an extension of a sales floor, or simply a place to stroll and window shop. They can be the safe route to school or a means to patrol the neighborhood. They can be urban or they can be in less dense areas. They are our most straight-forward and economical health care plan.

Whatever the case, we must once again own the sidewalk.

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