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Designing A Lively downtown (video)


wolverine

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This was posted in the Ann Arbor section originally, but I felt it was good for everyone to see. It talks about what makes a lively downtown. Shops? banks? office buildings? architecture? While we sometimes hear what urban planners tell us what is good, it's sometimes nice to hear comments from the average person. This video focuses on downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. It's always been noted as one of Michigan's liveliest. Some people might say that because Ann Arbor is home to the University Michigan, there is bound to be more people walking around the city. I don't think that's necessarily true. Ann Arbor has 3 other major commercial districts that are bound by the campus, and that's typically where most of them spend there time. So going downtown happens about once a month for me, despite the fact that I live just 11 blocks from main street. So what is drawing everyone else to the downtown. Take a look:

http://www.mlive.com/aanews/video/flash/in..._livelydowntown

One interesting thing to note is that all of Ann Arbor's highrise buildings are located outside the downtown....it's possible this could have an effect.

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We had quite a discussion about this video a few weeks ago in the Charlotte section. It was my contention that despite the growth in that city, very little of it leads to the type of environment that we would like to see in in places and as described in that video. All too often projects make all of the mistakes that end up creating concrete canyons that nobody really cares to visit beyond finding places to get drink or going to ball games. One of my biggest complaints these days are architects that design buildings that are fantastic to look at from a distance, but at street level they are absolutely dead. It's the difference between designing a monument vs designing an intimate place.

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Fabulous documentary! Having worked at Main Street and Liberty for almost three years, Westphal nails it. We are looking to move to Greenville, SC, and have been researching the town's history. Interestingly, Greenville also narrowed its main street and added trees to line it. We were there for the "lighting of Greenville" for the 2006 holiday season. What a fabulous event! There were so many people, but it was still walkable. It seems like Greenville has created a good plan. I hear Greenville's comeback has been very engineered, because just 15 years ago it was... um... undesirable.

But, there are so many similar elements between Ann Arbor and Greenville. How about other mid-sized cities/towns? Do they all follow these patterns? I'd love to hear feedback from other places.

(It was so much fun seeing all my favorite places featured in the documentary!)

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I really enjoyed the video too. Very interesting to see Main Street at it's best. Ann Arbor and Greenville sure look nice. More high rises will become successful with street level retail/restuarant. That was a good point made in the video.

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We had quite a discussion about this video a few weeks ago in the Charlotte section. It was my contention that despite the growth in that city, very little of it leads to the type of environment that we would like to see in in places and as described in that video. All too often projects make all of the mistakes that end up creating concrete canyons that nobody really cares to visit beyond finding places to get drink or going to ball games. One of my biggest complaints these days are architects that design buildings that are fantastic to look at from a distance, but at street level they are absolutely dead. It's the difference between designing a monument vs designing an intimate place.
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I have to agree. There are some lovely buildings, but for me once you get up close and there is no imperfection or personality in the materials of the building. I would really love to see someone just build something they love and have dreamed of building, and use some materials that have character.
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