Places Where I Don’t Want to Sit

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.



  1. Those useless green spaces in urban areas are infuriating. Sometimes I think this country has landscaping fever. I see so many cities preoccupied with adding more green space to create vitality, when usually the biggest problem those areas suffer from is a lack of density. It’s counterintuitive.

    It’s like we think those grand European plazas work by virtue of being beautiful. Sure, that’s part of the appeal, but the plazas would still be failures without the surrounding urban density. I feel like that connection can’t be emphasized enough in America.

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