The main topic in Chapter 10 of Levy’s book discusses urban design and the different styles that have been implemented. One of the topics discussed was titled “what is good urban design?” While I understand that there are certain aspects of a design model that can generally be seen as good or bad, how can one really say what is good or bad urban design?
In my opinion, a good urban design plan is one that is functional for the city it is planned for, and one that represents the style of that city. If these two criteria are met, I believe that any urban design can be successful. For example, in the text, Levy discussed some plans that follow neotraditionalism, which are pedestrian friendly, while also discussing plans such as edge cities, which favor the automobile and are built to accommodate the economy. While it is the general consensus that urban designs should be pedestrian friendly among others, from looking at deigns such as edge cities, it can be seen that there is not one set of rules that can be called good urban design. From this, it can be seen that there are multiple ways to design an urban area.
While I do not believe that there is such thing as good urban design besides for functionality, I do believe that there can be bad urban design. Poor urban design can be seen simply when a design fails to accomplish what planners intended or when the design fails to represent the city. For example, when a plan for a city design is to increase the flow of traffic by building skyways in order to decrease pedestrian street crossings, and people do not utilize the skyways for various reasons, that can be considered poor urban design. Another example of poor urban design can be a design that calls for the implementation of more parks in edge cities. If the result were that the parks are not used because edge cities are not designed to be pedestrian friendly, one would be able to see how that can be considered bad urban design.
Overall, urban design is not an exact science. It is something that requires the personality of the designer and the functionality and character of the city at hand. While there are obviously some aspects such as safety that are always a priority in urban design, based on the reasons provided above, I do not believe that there is such thing as good urban design.