By Dom Nozzi
June 17, 2002
Many people put “nature” at the top of their list of what makes for a great street or neighborhood or town center.
Trees and wetlands are essential. They are extremely important. They are critical. In fact, in the suburban and rural/preserve portion of the urban-to-rural transect, trees and wetlands are near the top of the priority list.
However, they are not sufficient. And in a town center, they are nowhere near the top of the list of important ingredients in creating a healthy place.
In a walkable urban neighborhood center or town center of a transect, I would create the following priority list for design elements of a street.
Dom’s Vibrant Street Casserole (serves…everyone)
- Building facades abuts or are very, very close to the streetside sidewalk, with entrances on the sidewalk.
- Relatively high residential densities on the street or otherwise near the street.
- A mix of residential and non-residential development on the street.
- On-street parking.
- Short blocks, modest turn radii, no more than 3 lanes of 2-way street (3rd lane is landscaped median with pocket turn lanes), prominent crosswalk.
- Verticality — buildings are at least 2 stories high.
- Aligned building facades.
- Modest street light and traffic signal height.
- Narrow lot width.
- Transparency on building facade — adequate windows at eye level — implicit here is an absence of excessive blank wall horizontally.
- Shading street trees — limbed up, formally aligned and spaced so as to avoid blocking the view of at least the first floor building facades.
- Streetscaping — street furniture, etc.
- Ample sidewalk width — wide enough for sidewalk cafes, couples to comfortably walk side-by-side, street furniture.
- Modest sign size.