recent comment

I recently replied to another blog I wanted to document here. I did not spend the time to put all my thoughts down, which clearly would have taken much longer. I do think I got my point across. Here is the link to the blog, and below is my comment. I am wondering If I will get any followup, or if I just used too much space for many people to care to read and respond.

Post – http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2012/8/20/roads-streets-stroads-and-park-roads.html?lastPage=true&postSubmitted=true

Thank you for a great post. I agree with not only the difference in nomenclature, but also the issues and potential of value capture that you discuss here and in the TED Talk. Both strike me as something many of us do everyday though. I appreciate you describing and coining the term park road here, to describe a series of design details that respond to context and form to create places. As with trees, every tree has its place and we as landscape architects are taught and trained to place the right trees in the right places. As Urban Designers we do the same exercise as we design and build roads.

First understanding the context and use of the road, as you have been describing, will it just connect places or is it to connect, engage and draw value through the interactions it can provide. What is the environment rolling hills, flat ground. Are there assets, natural vistas and features we can take advantage of. What are the assets and issues. Then we look into the bag of design details we have. Which ones are appropriate. Roadside swales, ditches, tree lanes, no curb, curb and gutter, standing curb, roll over curbs: types of pavement, dirt, gravel, asphalt, concrete. There are a variety of details we can pick and choose from. Understanding these context, purpose and details we have, we can then begin to draw where that road needs to go. How far should the blocks be placed, what types of access management need to be applied and what do the intersections look like. What do we need for health, safety and welfare issues such as firetruck turning radi and necessity of sidewalks, bike lanes and other public needs.

We can also use basic urban design principles to encourage the driving behaviors we want. Such as terminating vistas, street furniture. Architecture that is brought to the edge of the right -of-way, and simple street design principles of smaller center line radi, standard travel lanes and the introduction of on street parking. All aspects of how design can inform, provide and create the behaviors we wish to see and encourage and help capture the values of our built environment. That are each used and placed when and where they are appropriate.

What I am seeing in practice is that we have gotten lazy. We are “value engineering” out good deign and appropriate urban principles in place for lower costs which in turn creates places that have less value, stagnant growth and little future potential.

Planning is a very conservative act, and when combined with good design can be a powerful and beautiful tool that engages our values and visions for a place, allowing the market to flourish and everyone a chance to have the quality of life they want and desire.

Thank you for the continued discussions and raising awareness about the economics, values and place making that proper design can have.

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