Maybe it’s a result of our chaotic lives, but most people don’t look above their shoulders. This isn’t an invitation to ignore the middle and upper reaches of buildings, but an opportunity to pay special attention to their bases—especially the first few floors and the way the building is woven into the surrounding fabric. Creating an engaging first 30 feet makes the street interesting and appealing to people who live, visit and work there.
We are very aware of the importance of creating exciting pedestrian environments. This takes different forms with each project. In the Brewery Blocks, we decided from the beginning that we needed retail to activate the streetscape. We considered where retailers might want to place their entryways and we encouraged individualized canopies and awnings. This approach allows retailers to merchandise their products in unique ways. It also breaks up the scale of the buildings, lends unique character to different parts of each block and animates the streetscape.
To make the street more inviting, we added comfortable benches with backs on curb extensions, facing toward the buildings (as opposed to the street) and anchored them with planters to provide a sense of place and community. On a nice day, people rest, converse or read a book. People of all ages are engaged. New parking was concentrated in underground garages to avoid interrupting the streetscape. Collectively, efforts like these create active and engaging neighborhoods that attract more people and enhance economic and social sustainability.