Strong Town’s Gracen Johnson recently started a social media campaign, asking people to identify places where they wouldn’t want to sit. I recently walked through the north side of downtown, which provided an opportunity to capture a few photos of places that make you scratch your head and say, “What were they thinking?”
First up is a bench that faces a parking structure. Who wants to sit here? And who designed this? Anyone who has spent a few minutes in a good public place knows that most interesting part of life in public is other people.
About as interesting as watching paint dry.
Here is a throwaway space, probably included in the development approvals as a concession to the public.
“We know the parking garage completely ruins any chance of an interesting walk on this block…so here’s a useless green space to compensate.”
We need to avoid these mistakes going forward. A vibrant neighborhood has active edges — places where people gather — it could be a cafe, storefront, or a residences with stoops so people are coming and going. This parking structure could have been required to have a retail liner around it at ground floor, or at least a facade that appears to be an active space. It’s crucial to get these details right at the ground floor to foster a more walkable city.