Against the grid

There is an ongoing push in the urban design world for cities to incorporate and develop using a grid layout for city blocks:

The thinking that a grid provides multiple alternatives for traffic to negotiate and thus lessens the impact of traffic by comparison to the cul de sac or ‘dendritic’ style of mid century development. While this is geometrically accurate the human is still left second in this design. It is a design based on the mobility of cars and not people.

Accomodating the needs of drivers to traverse an area or otherwise be on their way. It does little for people and their movement or safety. While it can slow traffic, sometimes, it also increases the number of intersections and thus conflict points between people and cars. 

In the US our urban evolution is still young and for nearly the last hundred years urban development has been undertaken with a car first vision. We are slowly starting to realize there might be a better way but the grid is a half step and one that can lock in cities and towns to a reliance on auto centric thinking. 


Evolution of the grid

Barcelona has recently begun converting groups of smaller blocks into what they’re calling ‘superblocks’.

These Superblocks provide access to local residents; emergency and service vehicle only and put the priority on pedestrian priorities. This reorientation is a way to retrofit the usual block system that we are still touting as a good idea. This is the evolution of the grid.

Designers and builders need to be looking forward and not backwards or half way. A company out of San Francisco called, somewhat ironically, Culdesac is doing just that with a new development in Tempe that will provide ZERO space for privately owned cars. It is a fundamental reorientation of the way we think it’s possible to live. Again in the US this is a unique effort while in Paris they’re looking at closing a major portion of the entire downtown to private automobiles. Imagine Manhattan or downtown San Francisco without private cars. The benefits are substantial.

As groundbreaking as this sounds it is really just a reversion to an urban fabric that existed before the automobile. When towns and cities were laid out and designed for the people in them and not for the people getting through them to somewhere else.

We are well past time for a shift in design thinking back to people. We have taken some baby steps and there are some taking a leap in this direction but we need to see this kind of change nationally. It is the kind of shift that can alleviate some of the substantial environmental pressures and produce a far higher quality of life for everyone.

Wise Acreage

Short advice on real estate and life

“To my real estate agent, Chernobyl is a fixer-upper.”―Yakov Smirnoff

“If you want to get rich in real estate sell things to Realtors.”―Anonymous

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”―Bruce Lee

“In real estate, you make 10% of your money because you’re a genius and 90% because you catch a great wave.”―Jeff Greene

“Perhaps the secret to making a billion dollars in real estate is that there is no secret.”―David Lichtenstein