City Comforts: Build to the Sidewalk

David Sucher’s definitive book on urban design, City Comforts, documents the fine details of “creating an urban village.”  Each mini-chapter documents a single concept of urban design that makes urban life possible, and even enjoyable.  No one experiences the city on the scale that many planners think: large blocks of “zones” intended to prevent “incompatible uses” from getting too close to each other.  We experience the city on the human scale–the fine grain details of street trees, storefront windows, connected pedestrian networks, streets-side cafes, and park space within a five-minute walk.

So we start another series of posts “City Comforts” detailing the good, the bad, and the ugly of urban design. As most of our time is spent in Salt Lake City, most of our images will be showing areas of our city, but we’ll also find urban design examples from around the globe that create Great Places.

Sucher selects “Three Rules of Urban Design” as the central tenets of the book, “to preserve and create walkable commercial areas.”

1. Build to the Sidewalk

2. Make the Building Front Permeable

3. Prohibit Parking Lots in Front of the Building

Buildings built to the sidewalk define the street, and provide a “street wall” that is the marker of an urban area. A continuous street wall with windows and doors on the street provide an enjoyable urban experience, and create a “walkable” neighborhood.  The Sugar House business district of Salt Lake City is a prime example of a quality, walkable commercial district.

Love it or hate it, but this is one thing The Gateway project of Salt Lake City gets right–the pedestrian experience. Shops line the sidewalks, and  pedestrian/auto conflicts are minimized.