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Jan Gehl: People-Friendly Cities Are a Must

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Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
8/22/2013 10:57:02 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Guggenheim
Thanks for your perspective, CitySolver. I do hope you'll get to visit the Guggenheim someday. If you're a fan of FLW, I think you'd appreciate it.

I absolutely agree with your point about most architecture being more about "glam" than "function," and that's a big problem with lots of buildings and structures popping up today. If an architect's first thought isn't "what kind of structure do people need here?" then I don't think that person has done his or her job properly.

CitySolver
CitySolver  
8/20/2013 12:31:01 PM
User Rank Blogger
Guggenheim
I confess I have never been to the Guggenheim so my knowledge is sencond hand. I always think that you should visit a building before judging it which is exactly what I have failed to do. If it works great, I glad as I love FLW. As for my point about icons, I still think alot of architecture is glam rather than functional. Only teh best architects (like FLW) can get both glamour and functionality in one builing, the rest of the architects should focus on getting the practical side correct than just produce renderings of impossibly complicated buildings that serve no real purpose in the real urban environments they serve. 

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
8/19/2013 5:05:09 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: icon worship
CitySolver: That's disappointing that "icon worship" is still so pervasive.

Interesting comment about the Guggenheim, and in a sense I can see your point. At the same time, I sort of disagree. I believe the Guggenheim space lends itself to being available for exhibitions that wouldn't make sense anywhere else. For ex, currently on display is a James Turrell exhibit, which fills the whole rotunda with colored light. I can't imagine that having the same effect elsewhere.

I actually think that, in a city like New York where there's no shortage of museums and galleries, the Guggenheim presents a unique and important challenge to artists and curators to create and display art in a way that makes best use of the unique space.

CitySolver
CitySolver  
8/17/2013 1:03:47 PM
User Rank Blogger
icon worship
We still have a culture of icon worship in design where spaces that look cool get great marks at university whereas spaces that are thoughtfully designed get snubbed as too rational, too conservative. We need more tutors who are not seduced by the image and can look beyond the bull to find designers who can design and not just make pretty pictures that do not translate into real life. Even Frank Lloyd Wright himself was guillt of this when he designed the guggenheim in NY. It doesnt work as a gallery, the floors are slanted and the gallery spaces compromised by the form he wished to work with, style over substance. It can be pulled off (just) in the case of FLW but for most designers getting good design requires thought and commitment, not photoshop!!

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
8/16/2013 2:29:54 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: people scale design
Agree with you fully, CitySolver. Sounds like your thoughts on urban development are right in line with Gehl's. I know you study sustainable design -- does Gehl's work come up much in your education? Just curious to know to what extent the "people scale" is still being ignored in the classroom.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
8/16/2013 2:26:02 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: capriciousness of human behaviour
Susan, I'd agree with the idea that "observation may be more instructive than discussion."

By the way, just saw that, according to a New York Times poll on Mayor Bloomberg: "72 percent approve of the pedestrian plazas he ordered installed around the city; 64 percent approve of the bike lanes he had constructed; and 73 percent approve of the bike-sharing program he created." Those are some serious numbers in support of things that received a great deal of criticism pre-roll-out.

CitySolver
CitySolver  
8/16/2013 1:20:36 PM
User Rank Blogger
people scale design
I think great urban public places area always designed from the ground perspective and poor ones are designed from above. A courtyard may look great on a model but put that in a northern climate and you have a dark hole that no human or plant life wants to stay in. We need spaces designed around the senses that are legible for all, including the disabled.

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
8/16/2013 10:35:47 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: capriciousness of human behaviour
I think you're right, Nicole. The clues are often there. But observation may be more instructive than discussion ie don't ask people what they want. Along the lines of that famous Steve Jobs quote about people not knowing what they want until you show it to them. 

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
8/15/2013 12:29:56 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: capriciousness of human behaviour
That's a great point, and a pretty tough question, Susan. I can offer up a couple of counterpoints, though, just for the sake of discussion.

-On CitiBike, while there was, and is, plenty of griping, cycling had also been on the rise in recent years in New York, so in a way I think that behavior helped dictate the plan for more bike lanes, and the roll-out of a bike share program.

-On pedestrian plazas: In her FC video on public spaces, Janette Sadik-Khan referred to tiring of watching New Yorkers sit on fire hydrants, and the like, in order to rest and take in the city. That behavior indicated that people were seeking a place to sit down, instead of just being on the move at all times.

I don't disagree with you at all. I think that you're right, that often we have to try things and then people adapt. However, for city planners paying attention to the people-scale, I do think the cues and clues are there as to what people actually want and need.

Hazel
Hazel  
8/15/2013 12:25:16 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: capriciousness of human behaviour
Good point, Susan, and I especially liked your example about the bike share program. The thing to keep in mind here is that people constantly change. Like they always say, the only thing that's constant is change. It might not be the same, but I'm just hoping that with time, that perception and mindset is going to be for the better of the world and for everybody.

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