architecture · behavior · culture · design · environment · happiness · Nature

Seattle has too many bleak public spaces |

Seattle Skyline view from Queen Anne Hill.
View of Seattle's city skyline. In such a gorgeous part of the U.S., Seattle itself is lacking in pretty public spaces. Image via Wikipedia

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? |

community · environment · Nature

Reclaiming urban space for community use

The recently restored Seward Park Inn, Seward ...
The recently restored Seward Park Inn, Seattle, WA. Image via Wikipedia

I love hearing about citizens taking the initiative to clean up parks, fix up land, and give places names as a sign of ownership for the land, not as in a “I OWN YOU” kind of ownership, but a “I am responsible for you” kind of way.

A group of park-lovers in Seattle took it upon themselves to clean up Seward Park and give the different trails and landmark names.

Knute Berger of blog Crosscut writes that he and a bunch of his friends “floated the idea of naming many of citys unnamed features, including alleys, street ends, trails, and other urban features that are yet unnamed on maps.

“There are many reasons to do this. One is reclaiming urban spaces, like alley ways; another is recognizing more than a centurys worth of life and accomplishment of Seattleites in the years since the streets were named. Yet another is to take the opportunity to include more indigenous names for natural and city features.

“A naming project is currently underway at Seward …”

more via The Crosscut Blog.