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Why does the public not use public spaces?


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#41 aastra

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 09:32 PM

Are you serious? The two streets don't seem to have anything in common whatsoever.

#42 m0nkyman

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 09:34 PM

Yes.

None of their examples are what we'd call subtle.

#43 aastra

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 09:38 PM

Again, you must be right. But I have to say I don't get the comparison at all.

Here's another interesting bit from their site:

In downtown Oak Park, Illinois, PPS recommended replacing a failed pedestrian mall with the original street. Even before the changes were fully implemented, there was a 100% increase in enquiries from potential tenants, and the vacancy rate eventually decreased from 30% to 5%.



#44 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 09:41 PM

I think it's hilarious that PPS writes about design and how to design places, yet can't design page lay-outs that are straightforward and legible. This isn't the only example (on this page) where it gets confusing as to which image is actually referenced by the text. Granted, they mean the picture of the blank-looking wall with capitol-like seats and trees in front as the "bad" example (because it's blank). Maybe (presumably?) they mean Government Street as a "good" example (but call the photo "Vancouver"...!), because it's "real" and not "blank"; however, it's not clear enough.

I think some of their other examples are downright stupid. Those of us who break out in hives when confronted by stupid kitschy bronze "life-like" sculptures will take our bananas and run in the opposite direction when faced with the Berlin gorilla, but will gladly stroll along the rhythmic sequence of Barcelona's waterfront park. As to why I should prefer Laguna Beach's jumble of public bric-a-brac to Paris's Parc de la Villette ...? Well, tastes differ. Villette has the quality of sadistic opera. Maybe sometimes we like that. Sometimes we feel it beats both the jumble of a kiddie gymboree and of bronze gorillas.
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#45 aastra

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 09:42 PM

It just seems funny to me that they would have contrasted a streetscape dominated by a big blank wall with a streetscape full of small shops in heritage buildings...that also happens to contain a big blank wall. Coincidence, I guess.

#46 Citizen Sage

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 03:01 PM

Another great resource for the design of public spaces is William Whyte’s research on the “Design of Spaces”. The authorities in NY were asking the very same questions posted on this blog and appointed Whyte to investigate why some of New York’s plazas were well used and others weren’t. For the most part Whyte found many factors of successful public spaces were intuitively obvious, like solar aspect, seats, active edges and shelter. Centennial Square fails in terms of both active edges and more than likely solar aspect as well- making it a great place for undesirables to congregate.

#47 Icebergalley

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 05:39 PM

The blank wall of the Belmont that was not part of PPS's review has been there since they built the place..

Wonder if the building owners will be repainting the murals that are on it... it has had a lot of repair work done on it over the winter..

BTW.. The http://www.bigbus.ca has set up it's ticket booth in the set back of the tourist shop in the PPS active shot..

It's now a more active edge... shop window behind with the stuff your own bear thing with the minit melt ?? ice cream stand and the ticket seller's booth side by each.. with a new roll down steel shutter just like in a mall..

#48 Icebergalley

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Posted 02 May 2007 - 03:13 PM

I thought of this topic when I saw a streetside blank wall on Douglas Street this afternoon...

Traveller's Inn City Centre.. by the WhiteSpot... Now that's not an active edge... That must be a hot spot on a bright summer day...

Contrast that block with the one on which the Radius is planned and you have exactly what an active edge should look like... However, not all the users use the front door.. the XXX shop sends you around to the back door..

#49 G-Man

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Posted 02 May 2007 - 03:24 PM

I would love to see that Traveller's Inn site redeveloped. A nice 14 storey budget hotel would work you know a DAY's inn or something similar...

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#50 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 02 May 2007 - 03:42 PM

I thought of this topic when I saw a streetside blank wall on Douglas Street this afternoon...

Traveller's Inn City Centre.. by the WhiteSpot... Now that's not an active edge... That must be a hot spot on a bright summer day...

Contrast that block with the one on which the Radius is planned and you have exactly what an active edge should look like... However, not all the users use the front door.. the XXX shop sends you around to the back door..


I think the front door is open in the day, the back door is always an available option 24H, at least that's what I've heard.
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#51 Icebergalley

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Posted 02 May 2007 - 03:42 PM

We're really off the topic now, but walking along the Douglas St. area made me wonder why are we not talking about redeveloping along that corridor... so much of it is 1 story shops etc.. Maybe starting to think about the city as an "urban" with arteries rather than a plane of neighbourhoods??? might be a valuable re think???

I got to go paddle on the Harbour..

but, when I see precinct edges drawn down the middle of a street or neighbourhood or area plans that cross only part of a major artery, I just go ????? WHY?

#52 Icebergalley

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Posted 02 May 2007 - 03:45 PM

If that's what you heard we'll all have to do a site visit..

#53 rayne_k

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 11:16 AM

Interesting discussion.. taking things back to the culture issue.. I sort of agree that culture plays into it.. but then I might expect that more of the crowds of Mexican students that come here for English programmes might flock to our squares - and they don't. Well maybe some in Bastion square, but that probably because one of the language schools is there. Some people sit on the steps of Basion square, but then they are tall enough that they make good sitting and have an interesting view.. while steps in other squares (Ie Centennial) don't have enough of a rise to be friendly to stair-sitters - It's a shame becuase steps can supplement outdoor seating.

With Antoine's gone Centennial does seem to have alot more space.. maybe enough to try for a culture-fest (aka folk fest of 20 years ago) in the square again.....

#54 Holden West

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 08:46 PM



I wasn't sure where to post this photo of the Belmont Building. Note the new restaurant renovation and new sidewalk bump-outs at the intersection. I thought earlier it was a weird little space but today I see they've put out outdoor restaurant seating.

A nice addition. I hope this will be one of the things that will pull a few people off Government Street onto poor old neglected Gordon Street. There's still a way to go to bring vitality to the street. There's a great new bakery between the restaurant and the Belmont hidden there. A nice find for those that dare to go down that windy street.

Is there a recent "before" picture of this intersection? I seem to recall someone posted a similar pic of the Belmont a while back.

(BTW, that's the Deuce car show visible on the Empress lawn).
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#55 Holden West

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 12:56 PM

Nice little interview with urban guru Charles Landry. So why is Victoria so desperate to eliminate "chaos" from the public realm?

SPIEGEL: What does a city need to have for you to feel good in it?

Landry: Contradictions, most of all, a balance between chaos and order. It needs neighborhoods vibrating with energy just as much as cozy little corners and parks; well-tended, middle-class sections as well as an alternative scene; technology centers for innovative youth and social facilities for older people. In other words, it needs creativity to retain the high performers who have lived there for years as well as to attract new, interesting residents.





A computer-generated picture of the exterior of the Elbe Philharmonic concert hall being built in Hamburg's harbor.
Landry believes buildings like this one can help to define a city.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#56 Holden West

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 11:10 PM

Avi Friedman:

Has cyberspace killed the traditional town square?
People still need a place to gather -- other than Facebook


Can we then make civic squares relevant again? Can they play a role in our urban and social vocabulary?

Rolling back time hardly works in planning and architecture as it fosters imitations that are often grotesque.

What we can do, however, is revive forgotten, abundant downtowns with their beautiful squares.

Squares are places where hidden social bonds can be felt, and that is why finding the resouces to conserve them or bring them back is well worthwhile.


"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#57 jklymak

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 07:45 AM

They recently covered the reservoir in Capitol Hill in Seattle (using DHS money, no doubt), put in some great water features and lots of benches, and on nice days it is packed. Why does it work? I'm not sure, but I'd say very high housing density nearby, it is a block from the NS and EW main drags, and it is very well done. It is also very large, about three blocks by 1.5 blocks.

This used to be a reservoir, with a "park" along its fringes. No one used it except for the usual folks who will avail themselves of unused space. It was nice enough, it was green, but it had no cohesion because of the huge fenced off reservoir that took up the middle of it.

Anyway, just wanted to mention an example of a new public space that has worked.


http://www.seattle.g...ail.asp?id=3102

http://maps.google.c...010707&t=h&z=16

#58 Nparker

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 09:06 AM

It might also be noted that the Asian Art Museum (a must-see if one is in Seattle) is only a short stroll from the resevoir at Capital Hill. Just one more reason to get the Art Gallery (and library) in Centennial Square IMHO.

Edit: I just checked the Google Map on this one, and I was thinking of the large water resevoir further up on Capital Hill. However, I have been to the lovely park just off Broadway mentioned in this article and it is a wonderfully vibrant space. The afternoon I was there, I saw several different musicians, families picnicing, mothers playing with their babies in the water feature, a martial arts demonstration, and at least one wedding party taking pictures. It almost felt staged, the activity was so diverse and harmonious. Oh and I saw nary a sleeping homeless person nor anyone shooting up.

#59 jklymak

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 09:17 AM

I think you are confusing the new Cal Anderson Park with Volunteer Park where the Asian Art Museum is. Volunteer Park is nice, but never had the popularity as a gathering place the new park has. Volunteer Park worked pretty well, but more for a somewhere to go to sunbathe or have a picnic in relative peace. Cal Anderson is much better for the community as a place to eat a take out lunch or coffee and people watch.

I agree that a library and/or art gallery would be cool in Centennial Square. I hope the design is such that it keeps the square feeling open and encourages traffic through the square. Ringing it with tall buildings that cut it off from the street are a sure way to doom it to failure.

#60 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 09:04 PM

Avi Friedman:

Has cyberspace killed the traditional town square?
People still need a place to gather -- other than Facebook


I'm just getting around to reading this article, and I'm annoyed by it.

Talk about wasting the precious opportunity of a national broadcasting platform (presumably this was published in all of Canwest's papers?) to spout boilerplate motherhood statements, and not bother stretching the thinking muscle.

I don't know where he gets off on telling us to build effective town squares (taking Europe as an example) while simultaneously completely getting the new social media landscape and technology all wrong.

It's the non-social media-infused culture of North American suburban sprawl that helped cripple Euro-style public spaces, and the new locative media and social media aren't to blame for this.

If anything, they can contribute to bringing those spaces back as meeting places.

For example, through social networks, coupled with mobile technology, I can let people know where I am, where I'm going, and where I'd like to meet up with them.

Through social media, I can locate new places I might want to try out (ok, maybe not "the public square," but you're dreaming if you think we're going to recreate the Campodiglio here -- private places, cafes, restaurants, etc., are just going to be part of the mix, like it or not).

In particular, through mobile technology I can find those places "on the spot," as I'm out and about in a city. The technology actually enables spontaneity and even serendipity.

It might not be the style of happy happenstance that Avi Friedman longs for, but it's real for scores of people, so why belittle it? He gets "new media" totally wrong.

As for his suggestions for actual places, ...meh. There's not a new thought in what he suggests, as far as I can see.
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