Civic buildings and spaces

Tennessee dad arrested for attempting to pick up kids after school on foot

In a tragedy of personality and wrong decisions, a man was arrested for picking up his child on foot at an elementary school.

Amazing collaboration transforms decay into a new heart for small town

The modest rural town of York, Alabama, is now home to one of the most inspiring new public spaces I have seen anywhere. 

Tactical approach leads to grand vision

Providence, Rhode Island, seeks to transform its major plaza — now compromised by buses and other vehicular traffic — into a gateway to the city. Getting to this point required a series of small steps.

Why Johnny and Joanie still can't walk to school

One mom was quoted in Chandler’s article as saying her rising ninth-grader will “have to cross 15 lanes of active traffic in order to access her right to a public education.”

Minor league ballparks as downtown amenities

Regions Field in Birmingham is a recent example of baseball adding to the appeal of an urban place.

Dissolving border vacuums, part 5

In previous posts we examined the border vacuums around transportation corridors, so now let's look at the border vacuums around institutional facilities and districts.

Designing a transit-oriented development around public space

Development near transit stations is often compact and intense, but it offers another critical opportunity -- placemaking. Civic places and parks can give a transit-oriented neighborhood identity and fulfill an important need in compact, urban neighborhoods. It can also raise values all around. After residents in Silver Spring, Maryland, called for more open space, Montgomery County, Maryland, planners wrote guidelines. A developer of a 27-acre project a short distance from the Metro stop has followed through (see image above). The redevelopment of a suburban superblock was designed around a series of public spaces by Bing Thom Architects and Sasaki Associates. The public spaces will add to the distinct urban center of Downtown Silver Spring. Read the detailed report in the current print issue of Better! Cities & Towns.

City returns to its streetcar roots

The plan to transform Somerville, Massachusetts, and connect it to an emerging economy also honors and enhances old neighborhoods.

Main streets are not a thing of the past

(And if they were, it would not be okay).

Can parking be a civic asset?

With parking now consuming as much as 30 percent of precious urban land in some American cities, it’s no wonder that parking has become one of the leading hot-button issues in planning and urban design. Rethinking A Lot enters the parking fray with MIT Professor Eran Ben-Joseph tackling the issue of ubiquitous and banal surface parking lots. Ben-Joseph believes that these lots are ripe for design interventions with the potential to make parking lots a significant civic element like plazas and parks, writes planner and Cornell lecturer David West in his review for the January-February 2013 issue of Better! Cities & Towns. Ben-Joseph's book focuses narrowly on better design for surface parking, but does not delve into wider discussions of parking mandates and whether we need so much parking in the first place. The publisher is MIT Press.

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