Urban and suburban design until recently has been approached in similar ways ever since the the mid 1900s. A lot of suburban design consists of large commercial areas with little to no greenery, large parking lots and residential streets with cul-de-sacs. Many of these suburbs are also automobile dependent forcing residents to drive everywhere. In cities there has been an emphasis on building higher to fit more people but with he economic down turn there has been many areas in need of urban renewal. In this blog I want to point out some of the urban and suburban designs I believe could use a new approach.
The image to the right is a picture of a main intersection in my home town Brick, New Jersey. The picture shows a four way intersection with an Exxon on one side, a CVS on the other and outside the picture is a Walgreens. This intersection is located by three Elementary School, each about half a mile away and many students will ride their bikes to and from school. What I do not like about this intersection is the absence of pedestrian refuges in each direction and also the lack of greenery around any of the buildings. Pedestrian refuges would be a huge benefit for this intersection considering the large amount of children that cross this on a daily basis.
The picture to the left is of a strip mall in Toms River, New Jersey. This image is an example of a design that includes large parking lots with little greenery. This design is scene all over America but New Jersey seems to have a vast amount of developments like this. This strip is located off of Fisher Blvd. which is a four lane arterial that is highly trafficked which makes this an automobile dependent structure. I do not like this type of structure because it takes up a lot of green space and forces people to drive in order to utilize its businesses.
In the book Principles of Urban Planning, the author Levy states:
People like to see other people and to be seen. Many cities will provide incentives to developers to create public plazas in conjunction with new developments.
This type of development does not allow people to walk by each other on their way to shop. It also does not provide any type of plaza or areas to sit which would encourage communication and can add to economic development.
The next picture is a multi family complex in North Arlington, NJ. This building is located on Skyler Ave. and is a main road with a lot of congestion. What I do not like about this type of development is its location and lack of visual detail. The location of this complex is in a very congested and industrial area which makes it very hard to live comfortably there. This building does not match the theme of the current housing available there either. Most housing units on this road are multi family but are much older looking.
This last picture is traffic on the Garden State Parkway South by the PNC Arts Center. This picture is probably one of the most infuriating images to any commuter that uses the parkway on a daily basis. The reason I put this image in my post is not because I do not think there is a need for a parkway but I think we need to have a more efficient mode of transportation for workers who need to travel the parkway each day for work. I can only imagine the money and stress people would save if their was a more efficient bus system or train stations to get people to where they need to be.
Urban and Suburban design has been following the same type of style which has caused many parking lots and traffic along many of the streets in urban and suburban areas. This is due to our dependence on automobiles which has also made us lose sight on the importance of seeing people on a daily basis even if it is on our commute to get milk. As urban design evolves I can see more developments with green areas and more parks. I also can see an increase in public transit as a more permanent source of travel. I look seeing what urban design holds in our future.