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Thread: Streetscape cross section needed

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Streetscape cross section needed

    Hi all,
    I'm looking for a good graphic that clearly shows a downtown streetscape in cross-section including the following: building facade; storefront/patio dining zone; pedestrian zone; street tree/street furniture zone; on-street parking; and travel lane. Preferably from building face to building face. With or without a bike lane is fine. I'm not set on a specific format as long as this info is clearly conveyed.

    Seems a simple enough thing, but my googling hasn't turned up just the right graphic.

    This is as an intro to several other slides in a downtown design presentation.

    Thanks!! I'd be happy to reference the source, of course.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by docwatson View post
    Hi all,
    I'm looking for a good graphic that clearly shows a downtown streetscape in cross-section including the following: building facade; storefront/patio dining zone; pedestrian zone; street tree/street furniture zone; on-street parking; and travel lane.
    ITE has a Context-Sensitive Manual for Thoroughfares that has ~1/2 dz of the renderings you seek.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks! Great resource - I found just what I needed. I had seen earlier versions of this but hadn't really looked at the final - its great to see ITE engaged in this.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Complete Streets manual

    Sorry for the self promotion, but the online Boston Complete Streets manual has illustrations that clearly explain all of these. Simply go to www.bostoncompletestreets.org and click on "guidelines".

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    ^
    I too wanna apologize for the self-promotion, but I'm constantly frustrated by overly-diagrammatic or insufficiently-illustrative streetscape sections, so I decided to create my own (along the lines of "if you want something done right, do it yourself.") I like to use a perspectival section rather than an orthogonal/2D section:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcszar/6098240516/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcszar/6098239918/

    I'm obviously too late to help you out Docwatson, but if you ever need custom streetscape sections in the future, just shoot me an email if interested. Keep in mind I can't do them for free - I gotta scrounge a living somehow!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Marc

    Those are some spectacular images.

    The main reasons you always see simplistic, conceptual cross-sections is: 1. the cost to produce them (particularly if your using them as working drawings and constantly making changes to them as you get input); and 2. when laypeople see detailed rendering they think that is exactly what they are getting, and then they get upset when the brick color of the buildings or the spacing of the trees is different. Loose, conceptual drawings can be interpreted much more broadly.
    Last edited by Howl; 05 Oct 2011 at 2:25 PM.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Nice cross sections!

    Question: why do you refer to the buildings as "infill" buildings?
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Luca, the cross-sections were all done for an urban infill proposal. (New buildings/blocks inserted in and around existing ones.)

    Howl, I understand that conceptual drawings can be useful for forming broad-based appeal/comprehension, but I think it helps if they get more specific. I've seen some NIMBY cases where a bunch of "stakeholders" all individually interpret a conceptual drawing in their own way (everyone sees something different in their mind when they view an abstract proposal) and are disappointed and upset when something inevitably more concrete comes along to shatter the various conceptual illusions.

    IMO there's way too much conceptual stuff and abstraction in our architecture and urban design these days - a lot of proposals, judging by their bland design, look like they never escaped the conceptual phase. A conceptual image pleases everyone when it's on paper (it's designed to do that), but seems to disappoint everyone when it's built. I think a more emphatic illustration/proposal can quickly cue people in to what exactly is being proposed and bring out objections and solutions in a faster, more-straightforward manner. For example, if a viewer saw a conceptual street section with ambiguous gray Sketchup masses (buildings) on the side, they'd understand that some kind of "street wall" was being proposed, but they might not be able to comprehend its architectural quality, scale, floor height, programming, etc. (even if a bunch of text or verbiage described what was being proposed). Contrarily, in the above example I'd like to think a viewer would understand "Oh, he's proposing traditional Baltimore rowhouses to enclose the street, most of which are 4 stories tall." If they object to that kind of infill, the viewer can then propose a specific alternative (larger apartment buildings, retail buildings, rowhouses only 2 or 3 stories tall, etc.) Less time could be wasted on lofty conceptual ideals and more time could be spent hashing out specifics.

    Actually I don't really understand the whole "community involvement" or "stakeholder" approach to infill (it's hard to imagine our cherished older neighborhoods ever being built if each contributing building had to go through a strenuous, time-consuming debate-and-approval process, or if petulant people could endlessly interfere with what their neighbors wanted to build) but I guess that's a discussion for a different thread.
    Last edited by marcszar; 20 Nov 2011 at 11:00 AM.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by marcszar View post

    Actually I don't really understand the whole "community involvement" or "stakeholder" approach to infill (it's hard to imagine our cherished older neighborhoods ever being built if each contributing building had to go through a strenuous, time-consuming debate-and-approval process, or if petulant people could endlessly interfere with what their neighbors wanted to build) but I guess that's a discussion for a different thread.
    Amen. Don't say that out lout at work, though.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    It really depends where you are in the design process. If youíre a municipal planner working on an urban design study for a neighbourhood you need to keep the options open. The important things to define are the limits of what will and wonít be allowed, but within those limits there may be a whole range of possible buildings. If you are a developer proposing an actual building then you can commit to a specific architectural style.

    Planning isnít about creating a perfect end condition. We shouldn't be pre-determining things like architectural styles unless there is a specific reasons to do so (e.g. in a designated historic district). We should be creating a framework within which other designers can play.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Howl View post
    It really depends where you are in the design process. If youíre a municipal planner working on an urban design study for a neighbourhood you need to keep the options open. The important things to define are the limits of what will and wonít be allowed, but within those limits there may be a whole range of possible buildings. If you are a developer proposing an actual building then you can commit to a specific architectural style.

    Planning isnít about creating a perfect end condition. We shouldn't be pre-determining things like architectural styles unless there is a specific reasons to do so (e.g. in a designated historic district). We should be creating a framework within which other designers can play.

    When I think of letting designers go wild, this is what we get:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=oceans...,26.28,,0,7.25

    To put that in perspective, that's the only architecture of that type anywhere within a 20 mile radius. The scale of each structure is also easily 2-3 times bigger than any other buildings in the area. And these buildings are located along the freeway. I just about want to puke every time I drive by those buildings... They wouldn't be so offensive to my So. Cal eyes if they had used an architectural style (mission, craftsman, etc.) that is actually used in the Southern California region...

    That said, I do agree we shouldn't micromanage everything in our plans. Just prohibit Victorian architecture in Southern California (except for the rare historic districts old enough to actually have used that architecture, and I do mean RARE).
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    ^
    Ha, the other end of the spectrum is this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haussma...ation_of_Paris
    The planning here was insanely rigid... but no one complains about that today. Apparently Haussmann even gave the developers the elevations of the buildings they were to put up because the elevations the architects were generating were too individualistic and attention-seeking (some things never change). The architects complained about their "genius" being repressed (as they also did when Berlin's officials engaged in rigid "critical reconstruction" in the 90s) but overall the citizens of these two cities benefited.

    Howl, I probably should have clarified that this wasn't a planning proposal but rather an outgrowth of an architecture/urban design project. I'm not a planner; I do architectural work but occasionally the stuff overlaps into urban design and planning. I suppose I chose the massing and architectural styles I did because that's already what Baltimore's been doing for decades now and that's already what exists around the infill areas. In B'more the rowhouse has proven to be a reasonably flexible building typology suitable for retail, offices, single-family houses, apartments, or some combination. After an interruption in the 50s-70s when rowhouses and their related commercial/apartment blocks were deemed outmoded (development shifted to tower blocks, shopping centers, and garden apartment-style infill at the time), they've kinda retaken the lead in B'more in the last few decades because they're easily adaptable and fit comfortably into the existing building fabric. So I was suggesting building more of what already is usually proposed.

    I worked with a traditional style because, frankly, that's what sells best. The reality is that there's often less community opposition to some proposed urban infill if it's done in a style that complements the existing "historic" stuff. And I heartily agree with these folks - a merely passable, lackluster "traditional" building will do less harm to a streetscape than an avant garde stunt gone horribly wrong. At least the bland neoclassical infill will make for OK "background buildings" whereas the avant garde eyesores will annoy the neighbors for a long time and ultimately only foment more NIMBYism in the long run.

    Some avant garde stuff turns out great - many people would accept a good FLW or Corb or Mies on their street (me too!) - but most of it is awful, produced by self-described avant gardists who think they're just as "innovative" as the greats but who really suck. Maybe it's surprising to hear an architectural designer say this, but right now I don't really mind most of the planning guidelines/codes/restrictions on architectural detailing (where they exist). It helps keep the architectural egos in check - streets are for people; they're not modern art sculpture gardens designed to serve as esoteric monuments to tortured, narcissistic artistic "geniuses."
    Last edited by marcszar; 21 Nov 2011 at 2:21 PM.

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