By Ian Hester, BArch Candidate
The New Urbanism is a blog that explores urban design issues with the goal of finding ways to make cities and streets more walkable. The author, Kevin Klinkenberg of Olsson Associates, approaches his articles with a balance between ideal and the practical solutions to urban conditions.
Shared street in St Augustine, Florida - photo from newurbanismblog.com
One recent post was particularly interesting because of its commentary on the Brutalism style, which is, of course, the style in which the BAC's 320 Newbury building was designed. Klinkenberg looked at Marcel Breuer's Atlanta Central Public Library, but rather than focusing upon the acclaimed architecture, he discusses the building's negative effect upon the surrounding street condition. This is a crucial point to consider when designing a building or a space, but it is sometimes overlooked due to a lack of a thorough understanding of urban design.
Street alongside the Atlanta Central Public Library - photo from newurbanismblog.com
Another noteworthy post pointed out the importance of character and place making in design. Klinkenberg quotes a comment that Savannah, Georgia is one of the only places in the United States that has retained a unique identity, and builds upon this by questioning the trend of designing buildings that are driven wholly by technology and aesthetics rather than sustainability and tradition. Doubtless, the right answer is somewhere between these two ends, but the conversation is an interesting one.
Savannah, Georgia - photo from newurbanismblog.com
The field of urban design is fascinating for many reasons, especially because it affects everyone. Personally, a more thorough understanding of it has changed my entire perspective upon architecture and design by developing my awareness of the 'big picture', and how design decisions can have far-reaching effects on streets, neighborhoods, and even entire cities. Whether or not you already have an interest in urban design, I would highly recommend checking out The New Urbanism.