The Ingredients of a Quality Street in a Town Center

 

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.meatmarket

Dom’s Vibrant Street Casserole (serves…everyone)

  1. Building facades abuts or are very, very close to the streetside sidewalk, with entrances on the sidewalk.
  2. Relatively high residential densities on the street or otherwise near the street.
  3. A mix of residential and non-residential development on the street.
  4. On-street parking.
  5. 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.
  6. Verticality — buildings are at least 2 stories high.
  7. Aligned building facades.
  8. Modest street light and traffic signal height.
  9. Alley.
  10. Narrow lot width.
  11. Transparency on building facade — adequate windows at eye level — implicit here is an absence of excessive blank wall horizontally.
  12. Shading street trees — limbed up, formally aligned and spaced so as to avoid blocking the view of at least the first floor building facades.
  13. Streetscaping — street furniture, etc.
  14. Ample sidewalk width — wide enough for sidewalk cafes, couples to comfortably walk side-by-side, street furniture.
  15. Modest sign size.

 

 

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