Details of Urban Design
by David Sucher
"City Comforts" presents a metaphor — the urban village — as a way of describing the mix of intimacy and anonymity that I believe most people desire and which is largely missing in our large urban settlements.
It is an attempt to refocus our public policy discussion from abstract generalities, colored maps, and grandiose projects to the details that create our daily experience. It is about a way of looking at and speaking about our immediate environment.
Too much of our discussion is devoted to grand strategic visions. Certainly, whether or not we build more mass-transit systems or where we place a major public facility such as an airport are important decisions. And many regions are groping toward a grand urban containment policy to hold back urban sprawl and create denser cities through reweaving the tears in the urban fabric.
But no matter what the investment or the strategy, what is as important for the individual human being is the manner in which it works at the personal level. Small details at the individual scale are where a strategy is lost or won. The battle is forfeit if the horse is mis-shod.
City comforts are the small things that make urban life pleasant: places where people can meet, methods to tame cars and to make buildings good neighbors, art that infuses personality into locations and makes them into places.
This article is excerpted from City Comforts by David Sucher, with permission of the publisher, City Comforts Press, Inc.
A building that meets the sidewalk in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: David Sucher
Consider some words on the label of Bert Grant's Celtic Ale — words written to be read and contemplated slowly, bottle in hand. (And by the way, a very nice ale.)
Image: Celtic Ale
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