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‘Skyways’ connecting the CoRe Building to the Hill Centre and the Civil Engineering Building. Busch Campus.

Here, the photograph’s main focus is on the elevated pathways, or ‘skyways’, connecting adjacent buildings. Contemporary Urban Planning by Levy (1) discusses the implementation of these in Minneapolis and Calgary, Canada. It raises the issues of abandoned streets and exclusivity in cities as a result of the skyways. On the university campus, however, where street level commerce is limited and the population is a fairly homogenized student body, these arguments fail to counteract the benefits these structures provide. In adverse weather both in the summer and winter months, for example, they provide easy and quick access between buildings facilitating the process of learning and knowledge exchange.

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The Yard provides outside moveable seating, food outlets, a study space, residential dorms and more. College Avenue Campus.

The Yard, one of Rutgers’ most recent mixed use developments, is my personal favorite space on campus. The ground level commerce with residential living space above assimilates the land use distribution found in Neotraditional urban design. The Yard also promotes the ideology of notable neotraditionalists such as Andres Duany and Peter Calthorpe in terms of pedestrian movement and transportation (2). Examples of the former include the lack of car parking space (limited to on street parking) but the abundance of pedestrian friendly walkways around the establishment. This design deters driving and promotes easy access on foot. In addition, the bus stop located just in front of the premises and the train station only a few minutes’ walk away promote Calthorpe’s transit orientated development.

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Public plaza near the Hill Centre bus stop. Busch campus.

According to a study conducted by William Whyte, this public plaza lacks two main components that comprise a successful urban space: ‘some form of moveable seating and the opportunity to purchase food and drink’ (3). From personal experience and observation of this space, his theory is correct. Most users use this square as a walkway, not as a public space to socialize or spend leisurely time. The benches lining the square are occasionally used, however they are not moveable and do not provide a table for study or eating purposes and are thus rendered, for the most part, useless. Furthermore, the square is completely paved in a monotone manner making the space visually and atmospherically sterile.

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College Avenue. College Avenue Campus.

The main flaw I am going to highlight in this image is the lack of activity and the reasons thereof. Firstly, it be the result of poor lighting at night which makes the pavements and adjacent spaces uninviting and potentially unsafe. The main reason, however, as discussed throughout Contemporary Urban Planning (4) might be due to the separation of land uses. As a result of zoning ordinances, or otherwise, this section of College Avenue contains mostly academic buildings. This means that when these buildings are not in use, particularly at night, the buildings and the spaces around them are devoid of students.

References:

  1. Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. Pages 181 – 183.
  2. Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. Pages 187 – 191.
  3. Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. Page 182.
  4. Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning.
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