Archive for March, 2013

Before

Fifth Avenue Before

After

Fifth Avenue After

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I just saved a lot of typing.

Which street scene is more appealing?  Which one looks safer?  Which one would have a positive impact on the community?

Rob Dinsmore, landscape architect (to be) created those sketches as part of our Expo seminar last week.  He and Kit Anderson applied a little road diet to Fifth Avenue, the four-lane highway that bounds Marshall University in Huntington.  It exists now in the Before sketch, truly a Frogger situation if there ever was one.

Yes, the After sketch is so much better, but is it really possible, you may ask.  Certainly.  All Rob and Kit did was reduce the lane widths a little to make room for the center island.  And change Fifth Avenue from one-way traffic to two-way.  All of which serve to slow traffic.

Why slow traffic?  Well, for one, to create an atmosphere where cars and people can safely coexist.  To extend the edge of a public space and create a more social, livable community.  To create an atmosphere where people are much more likely to stop, enjoy themselves, and maybe even spend money shopping or dining.

No, it’s not for every situation, but it applies more often than not.  Particularly downtown.  Use your imagination and picture your own After sketch for the Frogger street in your city.

It’s also about the money.

Spaces for People is going live!  On Wednesday, March 20, at 1:00 PM, Rob Dinsmore and Kit Anderson will join me for a presentation at the West Virginia  Construction and Design Expo at the Charleston, WV, Civic Center.  We’ll be talking about how good quality public spaces not only enhance the quality of life, but also help generate revenue for cities. 

Think good public spaces is just about making things pretty?  Think again.  Kit Anderson is the Executive Director of the Huntington, (WV) Sanitary Board.  He’s charged with finding ways to fund big infrastructure improvements and rate increases are not always the way to go.  Stop by and hear Kit’s ideas on how cities can raise revenues with the right attitude about public spaces and the quality of life.

Rob Dinsmore is a young award-winning landscape architect.  (Rob is so young, in fact, that he’s not yet officially licensed.  I’m not supposed to call him a landscape architect, but soon he’ll be licensed and he can proudly proclaim his professional title.)  Rob will be talking about basic design principles for developing good public spaces.

As for me, I’ll go beyond design and talk about the magnets that draw a diversity of people to public space for different purposes throughout the day.  Jane Jacobs stuff.

So stop by our Expo seminar. It’s free.  Hope to see you Wednesday at 1:00.