The Not-So-Distant Future: Cities in 2020, Part 8

We continue our walk through Weis and Arnesen’s paper, “Thriving as a City in the Year 2020,” this week’s section considers the importance of keeping our living spaces clean.

Posted By Megan Wildhood

Nov. 13, 2012

Weis and Arnesen continue the discussion of parking lots and expand it to the concern of freeways and congestion – not just of streets but of living spaces as well:

URBAN BEAUTIFCATION:  NO PLACE TO COMPROMISE

             No one wants to live in a pig pen.  Indeed, we want our living environment to be as attractive and as pleasant as we can make it, and that goes for our neighborhood as well as for the insides of our homes.  Is it surprising, then, that sparkling apartment and condominium complexes haven’t sprung up around Ford Field in Detroit?  Or around Quest Field in Seattle?  What could be a more attractive neighborhood than acres of parking spaces surrounding a large stadium?

            Attractive public spaces are a precondition for population density – parks, well-maintained sidewalks, abundant shopping and dining options, other attractive street-level amenities.  All this takes deliberate planning and visionary zoning that goes beyond merely proscribing incompatible structures and uses.  It involves positive incentives to create and maintain the kind of urban environment that attracts and retains residents.  It takes a planning vision that continuously asks the question:  “What environment, and what special amenities, will make this a residential magnate?”

            Above-ground parking lots, maligned in the previous section, are the kinds of structures that impede residential density.  Who wants to live next to a 10-story parking garage?  But probably the single most carcinogenic agent to population density around our city peripheries is the in-city highway.  Living beside a parking garage may seem idyllic compared to living next to a 12-lane freeway.  And the space denuded by in-city highways supplants what could have been thousands of acres of close-in housing.

Considering how our space can most optimally be used is an imperative for cities who are to survive in the future.  We can, as the paper argues, no longer look at one need, such as traffic flow, but we must consider all aspects of life when designing our cities.  All aspects include transportation, and all kinds of transportation, including foot traffic and cycling, housing and how we want the environment around our house to look as well as the interior, and attracting residents – making and keeping our cities places we actually want to live and be.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Author: