Elevate Your Thinking: Light, air and connectivity beyond the street | PlaceMakers
September 24, 2012 Leave a comment
This post from Howard Blackson addresses issues of building envelopes in San Diego. He feels that we may be putting to much focus on getting the ground floor of buildings right. This is important, and may be the most important thing for creating good street life; but it certainly isn’t the only thing to discuss, and Blackson thinks it de-emphasizes getting the rest of the building right. He mentions the versatility of the Vancouver podium, which ensures a strong street wall and allow for towers, while making provisions for light and air. Lots in San Diego (and many other places for that matter) are such that if a landowner wants to maximize the area of their lot, it will almost definitely bring them into conflict with their neighbors over these issues. He also advocates liner buildings to create small public spaces on interior lots. He also points out that upper stories need to be connected to the street and other buildings, which can be done via elements such as balconies and open stairs.
I agree to a point; if you’re below, say, four stories, I think it’s important for you to have a connection to the street. Above that number, however, I think residents are more interested in long views than street activity. I never held that position before living on the 8th floor of a building, but it does give you a new perspective being a bit higher. However, Blackson’s point about light and air still stands, and we need to think about the entire building envelope, not just the street level frontage.