What makes a great place?
We have all been to places that were very special, that we long remember, that we found captivating, interesting, enjoyable, beautiful or exciting; those places that we long to return to time and time again. In many instances they are places of great natural beauty, but sometimes they are great public places, in cities, towns and villages. It is these places, civic places that we want to discuss here.
These great civic and public places have attributes that they share in common:
- Great public spaces are unique and authentic or real, not artificial or commonplace.
- Great public places are visually attractive most times, even beautiful. Parks, tree lined streets, fountains, gardens, articulated plazas and art work punctuate the architecture an animate the place. The architecture should be well designed, appropriate to its setting and reflect the best architectural features of the period it was built. It should be in scale with the people that use the space and the uses.
- A great public space should be active around year round and have both daytime and evening activity. The public realm should always be pedestrian-oriented.
- There should be a mix of uses in close proximity. To accomplish this, the space should contain residential, retail, employment, entertainment, hotels, etc.
- There should be adequate density and intensity of use to ensure that there is pedestrian activity along the main streets and in the parks and plazas. Public transit stations act as wonderful generators of activity, as well as economic catalysts for the commercial users.
- The public spaces should be “commodious” to pedestrians and human scale. Benches, shaded/protected areas, streetlights, wide sidewalks, landscaping, awnings, trellises and transit all contribute. Personal safety should be paramount and conspicuously present.
- The spaces should attract and provide for all age groups, races and ethnicities. By providing a wide range of uses, residential types and age appropriate amenities a space will have more variety and activity for a wider range of citizens.
- The best public spaces should be designed to delight, add vibrancy and offer an ever-changing variety of activities, visual interest and attractions.
We know from our many community conversations how much you treasure the special elements of what Chevy Chase is today and we value the opportunity to add to and enhance the character of what makes Chevy Chase unique! Send us your feedback via the website about your thoughts on how to further enhance the character of our community.
This blog post was authored by Trini Rodriguez, Principal of Parker Rodriguez, who is the landscape architect for the Chevy Chase Land Company.
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