Friday, August 7, 2015

Roundup: Best Practices for Generating Pedestrian Activity, Cons of Mixed Use, Detroit's Two-wheel Culture, Abandonment of Suburban Office Parks, and Chicago's Riverwalk

Which Streetscape Features Best Generate Pedestrian Activity?
An academic publication by Reid Ewing et al, examined which features and elements most effectively encourage pedestrian activity. They found that three of twenty features had a significant impact on ped counts: the proportion of windows on the street, the proportion of active street frontage, and the number of pieces of street furniture.  Fascinating and good news for districts who want to know what kinds of street furniture they should invest in!  Direct link to publication here (accessible through Aug 31).

Big City Dreaming: The Sometimes Mixed Results of Mixed Use
As the pendulum has swung away from Euclidian zoning toward mixed use, there are some hazards that practitioners should be aware of. For example, too much vacant retail has become the unintended blight of mixed use in smaller urban/suburban areas - "too many cities are insisting on mixed uses in locations that are, at best, suitable for a single use."

Detroit Bike Culture Is Unstoppable
Two wheels are starting to dominate the scene in the city known for four wheels.  Despite the city dealing with bankruptcy and blight, the Motor City of Detroit continues to see a renaissance that expands year after year.  A weekly bike meetup, the Slow Roll, now has thousands of riders. The bike lane network will expand to 200 miles. The annual Tour de Troit will have an estimated 7,500 riders this fall. And new bike oriented businesses are sprouting up.

Suburban corporate campuses came on the American scene in the 1940's outside of Birmingham and spread thereafter, but have reached a tipping point especially in the suburbs of Washington DC where it is reported that there is enough vacant office square footage to fill the Mall of America four times over and fill most of the Pentagon. See what and why...

Chicago continues its reputation as an architectural magnate with the addition of new public spaces on the Riverwalk. Chicago has tried before to create public space along the Riverwalk, this time however, with wonderful conceptualization, craftsmanship, design, and detailing, appears to be a public space that will connect the public to the water effortlessly for a long time to come.

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