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500 days of summer park bench

Photo (cc) jaywei80

→ The Atlantic Cities: In Defense of Loitering

Not long after American inner cities started to empty of street life in the 1960s and 70s, government officials went for the benches. Benches encourage people to sit still. And sitting still is a quasi-crime in urban America commonly known as “loitering.” You may recognize its related anti-social behaviors: standing still, milling about and strolling a little too slowly.

It’s hard to remember how we got here, to criminalizing a leisurely pursuit that’s embraced on most European streets. But the cycle went something like this: Residents moved out of cities and stopped using their public spaces and streets. The only people still walking them were deemed riffraff: the homeless, jobless and, officials feared, gang members and prostitutes.


→ San Francisco Chronicle: Privately owned public spaces: Guidance needed

The Roof Terrace at One Kearny shows why we’re lucky that San Francisco requires downtown developers to provide space in their projects that is accessible to the public at large.

It also is a case study in why the generation-old guidelines must be improved.

Privately managed “public” spaces are one of the things being discussed for 195 land development. The spaces would offset the large footprints of lab buildings, and provide open space that the City would not have to pay to maintain. However, there are obviously lots of questions of accessiblity to answer.


→ Politico: Re-imagining U.S. infrastructure

President Barack Obama took the first step toward re-imagining U.S. infrastructure when he promised an executive order to reduce the red tape that frequently delays or derails building projects.

But to address our nation’s infrastructure crisis and create more jobs, we need to go far beyond just repairing our aging legacy infrastructure. We must re-imagine it.


→ Old Urbanist: Parking Minimums, Most Zoning Left Out of Nashville’s New Downtown Code

In addition to its plans for the region, Nashville has revamped its zoning code, adopting in 2010 what is in substance, if not in name, a form-based code for its downtown. The changes are some of the most promising I’ve seen in any code revision for a major American city, including the repeal of most of use-based zoning limitations and the elimination of all parking minimums within the downtown area. It’s a long overdue change for a downtown with a particularly tragic 20th century planning history.

Also see in the article, an argument against private “public” space requirements.


→ The American Institute of Architects: Three Major Design and Planning Groups Urge Congress to Move Forward on Transportation Legislation

Three major design and planning organizations today urged Congress to include four necessary elements in pending transportation legislation to make it a successful catalyst for economic growth: (1) dedicated funding for mass transit; (2) federal support for multiple forms of transportation; (3) community planning empowerment and (4) certainty of secure funding.

In an open letter to Congress, the heads of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), The American Planning Association (APA) and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) said that these three attributes were needed “to create a 21st Century transportation network that not only promotes mobility, but also helps to create and connect thriving communities.”


→ The Boston Globe: Walgreens plans large Downtown Crossing store

Fresh hand-rolled sushi. A juice bar with made-to-order smoothies. A hair and nail salon.

It’s certainly not a typical drugstore. But these are among the amenities that Walgreens will offer in the former Borders space when it debuts a 24,000-square-foot store this fall in Downtown Crossing.


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