In this exercise, you will play a role of the community designer for the downtown area of your city and you are going to write an evaluation report on the design of this area. From the outset, the declared goal is to create urban space that is walkable, enjoyable, and livable to everyone. This principle should guide all your design considerations for the evaluation. Also, according to Project for Public Spaces (https://www.pps.org), a successful place has four attributes. The space is accessible; people are engaged in activities in the space; it is comfortable and has a good image; and it is a sociable place where people meet each other and take people when they come to visit. Based on this, what you’ll do is: 1. First, read closely Jacobs’ “The Uses of Sidewalk: Safety” and Jacobs & Appleyard’s “Toward Urban Design Manifest.” They give you some useful concepts to analyze the design of urban spaces. Make sure to read them before you begin the next part of the assignment.
2. Second, select a specific place of the downtown of your city. This should be an obviously public or “mass private” place; that is, one that is easily and freely accessible to the general public, whether it is inside or outside and does not require anyone to spend any money to access or remain within the space. You should plan to spend at least one hour in this place, observing its unique qualities. You should pay close attention to what’s going on in the there, its physical aesthetic, etc. Use the following questions1 to help you to organize and record your observations.
• Can you see the space from a distance? Is its interior visible from the outside?
• Is there a good connection between the space and the adjacent buildings, or is it surrounded by blank walls? Do occupants of adjacent use the space?
• Can people easily walk to the place? For example, do they have to dart between moving cars to get to the place?
• Do sidewalks lead to and from the adjacent areas?
Does the space function for people with special needs?
• Do the roads and paths through the space take people where they actually want to go?
• Can people use a variety of transportation options—bus, train, car, bicycle, etc.—to reach the place?
• Are transit stops conveniently located next to destinations such as libraries, post offices, park entrances, etc.?
b. Comfort and Image
• Does the place make a good first impression?
• Are there more women than men?
• Are there enough places to sit? Are seats conveniently located? Do people have is a choice of places to sit, either in the sun or shade?
• Are spaces clean and free of litter? Who is responsible for maintenance? What do they do? When?
• Does the area feel safe?
• Are people taking pictures? Are there many photo opportunities available?
• Do vehicles dominate pedestrian use of the space, or prevent them from easily getting to the space?
c. Uses and Activities
• Are people using the space or is it empty?
• Is it used by people of different ages?
• Are people in groups?
• How many different types of activities are occurring—people walking, eating, playing baseball, chess, relaxing, and/or reading?
• Which parts of the space are used and which are not?
• Are there choices of things to do?
•Is there a management presence, or can you identify anyone is in charge of the space?
• Is this a place where you would choose to meet your friends? Are others meeting friends here or running into them?
• Are people in groups? Are they talking with one another?
• Do people seem to know each other by face or by name? 3 • Do people bring their friends and relatives to see the place or do they point to one of its features with pride?
• Are people smiling? Do people make eye contact with each other?
• Do people use the place regularly and by choice?
• Does a mix of ages and ethnic groups that generally reflect the community at large?
• Do people tend to pick up litter when they see it?
3. Third, after you complete and record your observations, write a 1200-1500 word report that makes use of the data you’ve collected to describe the design elements of the place you visited. Think about whether your observations make you think differently about any of the theories we considered in the previous sessions. 4. You must use Jacobs’ work and Jacobs & Appleyard’s work to deepen your analysis. Select at least two (2) ideas from each work and use them in your report in a substantive way that relates to what you see in your site. 5. Attach photos of the place as an appendix to your report if it helps to tell your story.
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