In case y’all hadn’t noticed yet, I’m a huge proponent of utilizing public space for community use and creating an overall aesthetically pleasing environment for people. Cities have one of the greatest opportunities to provide that for their citizens. So I was thrilled when I read this article in Crosscut Magazine arguing the same thing, specifically for my hometown of Seattle.
Our landscape-oriented mindset should have been good preparation for what we need in the densifying city now, which is more design intelligence given to the open spaces between buildings — plazas, parklets, and awkward leftovers like the places under freeway overpasses. The more the air space around us becomes stuffed with architecture, the more acutely we need the relief of thoughtfully landscaped open spaces on the ground. Arguably, these spaces are more important in the built environment than most buildings because they’re public — people use them.
Or if they’re emotionally cold, dreary, or austere, people don’t use them, which is the case with a number of Seattle’s precious open spaces. On one of our desperately rare sunny spring days this month, I visited about a dozen open spaces in the dense city and found — no surprise — the bleak ones practically unused and the beautiful ones full of life. What is surprising is that we’re not demanding more graceful, humane, imaginative design — and raising hell over trends such as Seattle Parks and Rec’s inexplicable new fascination with concrete and gravel.
The article goes on to provide examples and suggest different fixes for a couple of spaces. More via Why does Seattle have so many bleak public spaces? | Crosscut.com.
- City gearing up for more parklets (sfgate.com)
- Gathering Places Project looking for communities in need of public spaces (phinneywood.com)