Friday, August 26, 2005

Design Matters

Here's a comment from the Aug 25 entry at Cool Town Studios, an organization whose goal is to help build an urban infill projects that serves as both a model and anchor for future surrounding development designed to attract creative, entrepreneurial markets that significantly increase quality of life and local economic development.

'Been there, done that' doesn't always fly.

Ever walk into a neighborhood that people rave about, then wonder what all the fuss was about? At the same time, wonder why there are so many beautiful neighborhoods that people rarely talk about?

When a person gushes about their neighborhood, they'll often mention the great restaurants, hangouts and entertainment, that it's affordable, walkable and convenient, and that they like the people. It's a bit rare for them to say how well designed the architecture, parks and streets are, yet that's mostly all that visitors to their neighborhood will experience.

So... if such a great neighborhood doesn't have well-designed streets, buildings and public places, which is the case nine times out of ten, it elicits that 'been there done that' response from visitors. The unfortunate result? Developers and city officials will think the well-designed places don't need much character (ie chains, corporate housing and offices), and that the places with unique character don't need good design.

There are some excellent thoughts here as we continue implementation of our Downtown Master Plan. To create a memorable place, we need to consider design. We need to consider design of the entire place, including streets, public space, buildings and streetscape. We want Sarasota to build on its unique character, its unique sense of place. A memorable Sarasota would serve us well.

Dale Parks has raised the issue of including design in the CRA Advisory Board review of proposed projects. We believe he has raised some good questions that need to be addressed. Dale is a member of the CRA Advisory Board and he fills a position designated for an individual involved in planning or design. Design needs to be considered as we review the proposals for downtown Sarasota. We need independent, knowledgeable review in order to get the best end result. A memorable Sarasota is an excellent end result.

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