Creating Vibrant Public Spaces
Streetscape Design in Commercial and Historic Districts
Public space and street design in commercial districts can dictatethe success or failure of walkable community centers. Instead offocusing our efforts on designing new “compact towncenters,” many of which are located in the suburbs, we shouldinstead be revitalizing existing authentic town centers. Thisinformative, practical book describes methods for restoring the healthand vibrancy of the streets and public spaces of our existingcommercial districts in ways that will make them positive alternativesto suburban sprawl while respecting their historic character.
Clearly written and with numerous photos to enhance the text,Creating Vibrant Public Spaces uses examples from communitiesacross the United States to illustrate the potential for restoring thebalance provided by older urban centers between automobile access and“walkability.” In advice that can be applied to a varietyof settings and scales, Crankshaw describes the tenets of contemporarydesign theory, how to understand the physical evolution of towns, howto analyze existing conditions, and how to evaluate the feasibility ofdesign recommendations.Good design in commercial centers, Crankshaw contends, facilitatesmovement and access, creates dynamic social spaces, and contributes tothe sense of a “center”—a place where social,commercial, and institutional interaction is more vibrant than insurrounding districts. For all the talk of creating new“green” urban spaces, the ingredients of environmentallyaware design, he points out, can often be found in the deterioratingcores and neighborhoods of towns and cities across the United States.With creativity, planning, and commitment, these centers can thriveagain, adding to the quality of local life and contributing to thelocal economy, too.
Ned Crankshaw is an associate professor oflandscape architecture at the University of Kentucky. He has writtenabout streetscape design in historic commercial districts in numerousjournals and magazines.
Chapter 1: A Philosophical Basis for Downtown Design
Chapter 2: Space and Land Use Configuration in HistoricCommercial Districts
Chapter 3: Connections: Neighborhood and Downtown
Chapter 4: Walking Downtown: the Visitor’sExperience
Chapter 5: The Arrangement of Parking: A DesignPerspective
Chapter 6: Streetscape and Public Space DesignGuidelines
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