On the Merits of Roundabouts

I grew up in Orange, California, a city that decided to forgo the traditional town square in favor of a circle. The Orange Circle is a two-lane roundabout surrounding a park and a fountain that was funded, I kid you not, back in 1886 through local bake sales. Every teenager in town learned to drive […]

Read More

The Potential of COMO’s Public Art

Not too long ago, three new Gateways were illuminated in The District , the culmination of years of planning. (You can read up on the project here.) As part of the public input process, one suggestion offered was a roundabout in the middle of Broadway featuring a statue of Daniel Boone. Although interesting from both […]

Read More

What Pokemon Go Can Tell Us About Our Cities

By now, we’ve all read the articles about the Pokemon Go phenomenon— it’s better than Fitbit at getting people moving, people’s legs hurt because they are walking so much, and everyone from retailers to Hillary Clinton is learning how to take advantage of the crowds of people out and about hunting Pokemon. If you’re one […]

Read More

Activating Alleyways

My former downtown office was adjacent to a pedestrian alley known throughout the city as Alley A. Shops, restaurants, and apartments open up onto the walkway and it’s become a lively pedestrian thoroughfare. It wasn’t always this appealing. Drainage was a huge problem and the alley became a skating rink during the height of winter. […]

Read More

Public Space v. Online Space

It’s a common scene every time I stop by the local coffee shop for a mid-morning pick-me-up. The tables are full of people busily working their laptops, iPads and cell phones. (How does one, I wonder, get those types of jobs?) They’re definitely engaging in conversations, just not with the people immediately beside them. How did […]

Read More

Play Streets

On a recent post about restoring the downtown street grid, Matt Boehner, planner for our city’s Parks and Recreation Department, had a great comment about reclaiming streets. Without a doubt, the default use of streets has become cars and any other use is considered an exception to that rule. (In fact, Vox recently had a […]

Read More

Arts Districts and the Power of Swerve

We walk through cities everyday but rarely do we ask how this messy mix of buildings, people and infrastructure came to be. Who planned this? Planning used to be fairly straight forward. It came from a man with a vision. A planner would look at a public space, decide the best use for it, and […]

Read More

How Public Spaces Succeed

Last week, I talked about the ways a public space can fail. The obvious question, then, is, “what can bring this space back to life?” Here are a couple of suggestions, many of which are already being acted upon in regards to the public square here in my home town: Keep up with maintenance and […]

Read More

How Public Spaces Fail

About 15 or so years ago, a massive community effort was launched in our city to close a section of a street running by the historic County Courthouse. The goal? A traditional public square. The idea was to have a gathering place in the downtown area, one that could be used for festivals, concerts and other community […]

Read More