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Dynamic Planning for Retail Areas (1954)
Publishing date: 07.12.2009

Author:

The cure for obsolescence – urban and suburban – is not remodelling of interiors and other makeshift devices. The cure is … An important article from the Harvard Business Review, November-December 1954

The cure for obsolescence – urban and suburban – is not periodic remodelling of interiors and store fronts, a few street widenings, and other makeshift devices. The cure is …


Until the postwar years, the dispersion of population to the suburban areas seemed mainly to interest sociologists, ecologists, and city planners. Then the building boom, higher income levels, and the increased use of automobiles accentuated the development of suburban shopping facilities and engaged the attention of more and more retailers. Turbulent disagreement ensued; and it is still going on.

The Disagreement

The disagreers are divided basically into two camps: (a) those who might be called the “decentralizers” and (b) those who might be called the “downtowners”.

The decentralizers regard the suburban shopping development as the cure for what the late Henry Ford referred to as the “pestiferous growth” of the city[1]. Just build more shopping facilities in the suburbs, they say, and forget about the metropolis. Their point of view is enticing, considering the array of statistics which demonstrate the dispersion to the suburbs and the indictment which can justly be levelled against downtown shopping. But it s also deceiving. It does not occur to the decentralizers that the lessons learned in building suburban developments can be applied, along with all our technological resources, to the larger problem of commercial rehabilitation in the framework of urban development.

The downtowners, on the other end, see the regional trend as a satanic device to ruin them. This is a chimera, for if the unregenerate downtowner reads the same statistics as the decentralizer, he knows there is no choice but to accept the establishment of outlying shopping centers. As pointed out in a study of the Urban Land Institute, the growth of such centers is due to the increase of population in the areas they serve and the resultant rise n purchasing power there, not to the flight business to the suburbs [2]. To think otherwise is to mistake cause for effect.
The downtowners seem to rely on the fantasy that somehow people will stop building in the suburbs. And when their anxiety really gets bad, they go for bigger and better sales promotions, even to the extent of free bus rides, lunch-box service, special downtown shopping days, and parades. But what happens when the “gimmicks” fail? A downtown buyer notes, “Price promotions no longer pull the way they used to …” and then adds, “Business literally walks in by itself in branch stores” [3].

First of all, we must abandon the notion that this is strictly a question of where retail stores should be located. The hostility between the decentralizers and the downtowners is a phoney war. It is a diversion from the real problem – from the fact that the health of our entire retail establishment is at stake. Moreover, if the acquisition of goods becomes a plague instead of a pleasure, if shopping becomes a nuisance which the buyer postpones as long as possible, ultimately production will be affected. To acquiesce in such a situation is to promote a static rather than a dynamic economy. So this is a matter of importance not merely to the merchant but to management generally and to the entire community – and it calls for an organic solution.

The Trouble Downtown

The trouble is that the typical downtown section was planned before the automobile, not that it is in the middle of the city (indeed, what better location could there be?). The fact is that the development of the automobile has gone unchecked, and as a consequence the city is suffering from hardening of the arteries and heart disease. This presents a great challenge to management, the city planner, the architect, and other interested groups. José Louis Sert, Dean of the Harvard School of Design, who has lamented the tendency of architects to “go suburban,” is right when he says, “It is in the heart of our cities that architecture can achieve its higher expression.”[4]

Some architects have accepted the challenge. But sometimes fine plans have been drawn up only to be compromised in such a way by builders and real estate men that their original intent is either destroyed or sharply modified. Needless to say, it is easier to convert rolling meadows or cow pastures into suburban centers than to deal with the complex factors involved in downtown redesign, but the latter can and must be done if shopping is not to become and increasingly distasteful drudgery. (I shall refer later to shopping centers designed specifically for downtown areas and to one such development in particular.)

It is necessary only to ponder a few facts about one situation in order to understand the pathology of the downtown section in the automobile age – and to appreciate what its rehabilitation must involve.

New York. According to a study by the Citizen Traffic Safety Board, Inc., traffic congestion costs New York City businessmen over $100 million a year; for 5,600 miles of streets in New York, there are 1.4 million vehicles, and the number of registrations seems likely to double in the next ten years.[5]

This type of situation is of course not peculiar to New York. The Tyranny of the automobile in urban areas must be regarded as the main (though of course not the only) factor in downtown’s increasing difficulties. Designed to serve us, the automobile has instead been terrorizing us, engulfing downtown areas so that the confusions of foot and vehicular traffic form a gigantic urban jigsaw puzzle. We cannot afford to delay any longer putting the pieces on their proper places. A study of another metropolitan situation backs up this point strongly.

Boston. A comparative study o shopping habits based on interviews with 4,688 women in 3 belts around Boston showed that the most often mentioned reason for doing less shopping downtown was “transportation” (41% in the 15-mile wide belt surrounding downtown Boston, 55% in the outlying area between 15 and 30 miles from downtown). Combine the fact hat only 5% of the women shop in downtown Boston by car with the fact that 46% of suburban car owners indicate a desire to do more downtown shopping if only there were adequate parking space, and the need for doing something to revitalize the downtown Boston district is starkly evident.[6]

Significantly enough, while Boston suburban shoppers prefer nearby stores for standardized and branded merchandise and like the sales treatment they usually get in suburban centers, they still prefer downtown stores for style and luxury items and value the breadth of selection and prices they find there. In other words, there is a basic strength in the downtown area that obsolete conditions are doing their best to choke but can’t. Think what might happen if somehow downtown shopping could be made more pleasant and convenient, if the trend could be reversed whereby “downtown shopping is no longer the national sport of women but rather an intermittent chore performed after family needs have accumulated to the point where a downtown trip becomes necessary.”[7]

Suburban Trouble Too

If the obsolescence of shopping district downtown results from the fact that it was planned before the advent of the automobile, the obsolescence of our suburban shopping areas results from the fact that they were not planned at all. The good existing suburban centers – there are only a handful pf planned facilities, with the distinctive characteristics of single ownership, premerchandising, architectural unity – form the only oases in the vast desert of unhappy shopping center experience.

Suburban shopping developments tend to repeat the errors of downtown, why should this happen? Why should urban dwellers be enveloped by honky-tonk strips of stores duplicating and often triplicating their services and offering little in the way of shopping convenience or safety? Why should highways be chocked with a conglomeration of local and through traffic? Why should public roads be used as service alleys and public sidewalks as loading platforms? Why should our cities, in an effort to regain indispensable traffic arteries, be forced to build new through freeways at a staggering cost?

Part of the answer comes from a leading retailer: “Contrary to the belief of some, the ownership of 10 acres of land does not justify a shopping center.”[8] The myriad strip developments on densely populated Long Island illustrate this point very well. Some time ago Manhasset was reported to be having difficulty keeping local customers because of the competitive impact of growing “shopping centers” in Hempstead and Garden City. The problem, one of parking space, has forced 22% of Manhasset’s dwellers to go elsewhere.

Even in those cases where a planned center is considered, the developer frequently does not stop to ask the fundamental question: “Is this development necessary?” The answer must be based on exhaustive economic and traffic analyses and land-usage studies, prepared by specialists, before the decision is made to build and the architectural plan is drawn. The keynote for any development is planning, if it is to be a sound investment. A criterion of quality, not of quantity, is called for. The trend in suburbia today, however, is toward more and more stores, not better and better ones. The keynote, in most cases at present, is pure avarice, and the picture is one of ruthless competition.

Suburban Solution

What the answer, then, if the city is sick and the suburbs show all evidence of contracting the disease? Let us first consider what can be done in the suburbs, since that is the lesser problem and the answers are more immediate; we can then go on to see if the same approach cannot somehow be applied downtown too.

The main task of any corrective program should be the unscrambling of pedestrian, truck, and auto traffic. Automobile traffic has to be brought to the perimeter of the shopping area and stopped there so that a pleasant area for the pedestrians only remains. It is on this point that some of the so-called planned centers have made their biggest mistake. Thus at Shoppers’ World in Framingham, Massachusetts, which is no worse than many, customer and service vehicles are not separated at all, with resulting overflow of traffic and loss of effective parking space.

As a specific example of successful suburban development, let me mention the recently opened Northland Shopping Center (owned and developed by the J.L. Hudson Company department store), which my firm designed as the first of several at major compass points in suburban Detroit and which has been described as “the only shopping layout ever completely predicated on pedestrian shopping.”[9] Here are some of the details.

NorthlandShopping Center (Detroit). The problem of access and internal traffic distribution is scientifically planned o that the pedestrian is afforded dual protection – from cars and from the weather, as he reaches stores via covered walkways. On the other end, the motorist does not have to contend with the curb parking of conventional developments, but enters a vast parking area for 7,500 cars with a reserve area for another 4,000. At the same time, with the recognition of parking as a key merchandising factor, the plan was carefully devised so that at no point is a parked car more than 500 feet from the buildings.

Northland’s subterranean truck tunnel spares the pedestrian the offensive sights, sounds and smells present in conventional developments where customer and service traffic are not separated. The importance o this factor cannot be underestimated, for along with the congestion and unpleasant shopping atmosphere created by the mixture of traffic, the uncontrolled center inevitably causes the surrounding residential neighbourhood to deteriorate. Northland, in routing traffic away from residential areas and creating landscaped buffer strips, protects the main source of its own prosperity.

The tenant stores at Northland are grouped harmoniously and in such a way as to allow for the greatest diversity. The principle of premerchandising is an integral part of the planned shopping center. This principle involves careful tenant selection and thoughtful attention to the size, type, and location of tenants so as to create a balanced retail area and avoid the overlapping of retail facilities typical of conventional developments.

One visitor, commenting on the effect of diversity at Northland, stated: “There are shops for every pocketbook and they are arranged for the shoppers’ convenience – cheaper stores being together. But all have such extraordinary elegance of arrangement and display that nothing looks cheap.”

The same observer remarked, “The spirit is cooperative as well as competitive. Each seems to want all to succeed.”[10] Concretely, what this means at Northland is that the relation of tenant stores to the main “traffic magnet,” the J.L. Hudson Company, is such that Hudson’s pulls customers to the carefully selected shops clustered around it; to get to Hudson’s the customer must pass the other stores. In this respect it should be noted that just as Northland is proving that people are willing to walk 500 feet from the parking areas, it is also proving that they are willing and happy to walk when they reach the stores where landscaped areas, sculpture, and pleasant gardens provide constant visual stimulus.

Thus the picture of Northland s that of a shopping center, rather than an amorphous group of stores strung together on a busy highway. And it is a planned center not only because it is premerchandised and under the control of a single owner, but because its planners attempted to anticipate the causes of blight and obsolescence – congestion, disregard of the surrounding neighborhoods, and so on – and because the J.L. Hudson Company carefully considered the reports of the economic consultant and recognized the importance of land-usage studies, traffic analyses, and architectural unity before it undertook the development.

Comfort and Beauty

Hudson’s President, Oscar Webber, said recently, “The greatest advertising value of Northland is its beauty – the fact that people find it commodious and restful.” This remark, made before a merchants’ group in Detroit, is significant because not one word of advertising attended the opening of Northland, which is currently operating at some 30% over anticipated sales volume. It is in striking contrast to the lament of the downtown merchant in connection with the failure of sales promotions noted earlier. It suggests that advertising has only an ersatz appeal unless it is based on concrete projects where need is scientifically established and where service is provided in an atmosphere free of tension.

Art ad economics are not complete strangers. Northland, with its parks ad rest areas, its sculpture, its auditorium for the use of civic groups, is generally regarded as a new or revolutionary approach towards shopping centers. It is that; yet essentially it is not new, but rather a re-creation of much earlier schemes. It has its historical antecedents in the Greek agora and in both medieval European and early New England towns, where mercantile functions were woven into the social and cultural fabric of the time – where the city had a true core in which the primacy of the individual was asserted in the form of pedestrian reservations.

This has been a recurrent motif throughout the ages – the right of the individual citizen in the center of community life. Older communities, like those just mentioned, provided a style of life conductive to peace, leisure, and relaxation. Today this important aspect of living has broken down and must be restored. Northland represents an effort not only to build a successful shopping center, but also to “return to the human scale and the assertion of the rights of the individual over the tyranny of mechanized tools.”[11] It is conceived of hopefully as a social and cultural center – and it is a clue to what can be done in the suburbs and also (as we shall see) in the heart of the city.

Other Projects

Other suburban shopping centers projects of considerable size and interest are in construction or being planned by: Welton Reckett Associates in California and Texas; John Graham in Portland, Oregon, and Milwaukee; Abbot Merkt in New Jersey; Jeoh Ming Pei on Long Island; Lathop Douglas on Long Island; and Morris Ketchum in Princeton, New Jersey, and in Cincinnati, Ohio.

My own organization is working on the Southdale project in Minneapolis, which will introduce two new concepts: (a) the covered air-conditioned mall and (b) the development of 460 acres of surrounding land with office buildings, apartment houses, and parks, which will be integrated with the shopping center. We are also working on Valley Fair and Bayfair, two Capital Company-R. H. Macy developments planned for the San FranciscoBay area; Glendale in Indianapolis; Woodmar in Hammond, Indiana (a Landau and Pearlman-Carson Pirie Scott & Company development); Woodlawn in Wichita; and the Waialae center in Honolulu.

All of these projects have in common the principle of scientific planning and the concept of traffic-free pedestrian areas.

Downtown Solution

The eminent Frank Lloyd Wright with his vision of a suburban city, an acre to every family, tells a business publication that the big city department store is n the way out and so is the big city.[12] Wright doffs his hat to the one-stop suburban shopping center, but then he concludes, “Decentralization is damaging to the vested interests but is beneficial to the other vested interests, the people.”

Actually, there are already more suburban centers being planned than the available volume of business can support. Further, Wright’s concern for “the people” as against the vested interests is vitiated by his abandonment of the city.

The city of today, with its concentration of commerce, finance, and industry, cannot escape fulfilling its role as a social and cultural center. And there are congenital city dwellers who must be among “the people” Wright bleeds for. As Sidney Baer, Vice Chairman of the Board of the Stx, Baer & Fuller Company department store, has stated:

The development of suburban areas is logical and healthy, in cities of increasing population; but … such transition in civic development need not and should not be at the expense of the main downtown area; this development should not be a case of tail wagging the dog.”[13]

Some of the lessons learned in the planning of suburban shopping centers can undoubtedly be applied in downtown areas. The centers of our cities might be organized into various land-usage elements, each one with its own parking area, with its own green area, and with its own surrounding traffic arteries. Each of these elements would be restricted in size to make it useful and enjoyable to the pedestrian. Because such urban centers will be developed on high-price land, it is probable that emphasis will be placed on underground and multiple-deck parking, and also on skyscraper buildings (as in the RadioCity development) to make best use of the land available. Great attention will have to be paid to a separate underground service road system.

Generally the basic aim in creating new urban centers or remodelling existing ones will be the same as in the better planned suburban centers: the unscrambling of foot, automobile, and service traffic.

New Developments

José Luis Sert, mentioned earlier, sees the problem as one of “recentralization” – reversing the trend of unplanned decentralization. He would create new urban cores, with planned land usage and separated foot and vehicular traffic, to replace the old unplanned districts which have deteriorated. He would “reinstate” – the word is significant – trees, plants, water, sun, and the shade.[14]

Several urban centers now being developed are worthy of note:

Back BayCenter (Boston). This, the work of the Architects Collaborative, scheduled for completion in 1959, is a step in the right direction. The Blueprints call for a 40-story office building, a 750-room hotel-motel, a shopping area designed for all-weather convenience, and a new convention hall set apart from the commercial development proper.

Through scientific traffic analysis, the planners seek to avoid congested traffic arteries, to integrate public transportation, and to isolate the center from through traffic. They aim also to create green areas within the development. Progressive Architecture notes, “One of the most agreeable things about the entire development is that, throughout, the pedestrian comes into his own. Yet his automobile, 6,000 of them to be exact, can be accommodated on underground parking levels.”[15]

PennCenter (Philadelphia). This is an example of a good city plan being compromised by various private investors building independently. The five buildings in the center are to be built by four different owners and designed by four different architects. The author of this revised plan, Robert Dowling of the City Investment Company, represents the Pennsylvania Railroad which owns the land. As one publication has put it, “Dowling’s scheme is actually more novel financially than architecturally (even including open spaces) because of the new way he slices a huge city redevelopment into bite-sized investments.”[16]

Dowling is quite right in assuming the importance of economic planning. He is guilty of gross simplification and a rather mechanistic view, however, when he suggests that, given a sound economic plan, an imaginative, integrated architectural treatment will flow automatically from it. The GatewayCenter, a motley group of office buildings in Pittburgh, shows what is likely to result when the architect does not have a coordinating function from the beginning but is brought in as a technician to consummate a brilliant development supposedly made inevitable by the economic plan someone else has worked up.

Planning Rehabilitation

We have until now been focusing our attention on integrated, single-ownership centers in the suburbs and in downtown areas. But the same principles that governed the planning of Northland apply likewise to the rejuvenation of multiowned existing business districts. As pointed out in a recently published study, old business districts do not have to be junked, but “It requires more skill to remodel and conserve something old than to tear down or build anew …”[17]

In redesigning existing downtown business areas, the key problem remains that of separating foot and vehicular traffic. The Perimeter Plan conceived by the Chicago Plan Commission, which has received the serious attention of some 20 major business districts in Chicago, is an effort to cope with the problem. The plan would not only provide parking and remove through traffic from the heart of major areas by means of perimeter roadways but would also redesign the districts inside the perimeters. Customer and service traffic would be separated by clearing all “nonconforming” (e.g. residential) land for roads and parking. And since the rears of commercial buildings would, in such a treatment, be open to public view both from the perimeter road and from the parking areas, they would be remodelled to provide attractive façades toward parking lots as well as greater service efficiency.

A plan similar to the Perimeter Plan has been projected for the central business district of Rye, New York, by Morris Ketchum. It calls for rerouting traffic, making the main street a pedestrian mall, and distributing parking and service around the periphery of the shopping area.

In considering the rehabilitation of our downtown areas, it is difficult to establish a program which would apply generally. The problems of any city are vastly different from those of any other, and in each case different courses of action will have to be followed. However, here is a specific example of how one existing downtown area can be rehabilitated, which may show the way for other communities. It is a plan of rehabilitation which my firm worked out for a group of downtown merchants in a Midwestern community.

Appleton, Wisconsin. Though this is a city of comparatively small size (the population of the entire trade area is about, 94,000, the population of the city itself about. 34,000), it has most of the typical problems under which downtown areas suffer. (for a picture of present-day Appleton, see Exhibit I.)

To determine the nature and extent of Appleton’s problems, we first established figures for population and for the retail facilities in the existing trade area. We then made a projection and found that by 1960 population would have grown from 94,000 to 111,590. On this basis, we determined how much more retail space would be needed.

Next, we counted the parking spaces in the downtown area and found that there were 1,002 metered spaces and 888 off-street; together, room for 1,890 parked cars. To make reasonable balance between demand and supply, 1,210 more parking spaces are required right now and about 3,200 more will be required in ten years. Along with parking needs for other purposes, the city will probably be 5,000 parking spaces short by 1960 if nothing is done to improve the situation; and traffic congestion in the main-street district will increase 66% by 1960 to serve retail requirements alone.

We also made a survey of all buildings. Some 60% of the structures on the main street are either over 35 years old or of frame construction in need of repair or remodelling, and the number will increase at least 1% for each year that goes by without remedial action.

To sum up our findings: by 1960, the whole downtown shopping pattern will have to be adjusted. The retail space will have to be doubled in size; 3,200 parking spaces will have to be added; a readjustment of the traffic pattern is necessary; and steps will have to be taken to control obsolescence. (see Exhibit II)

The following design principles were formulated to meet these needs:

1. Provide a one-way perimeter traffic artery around the business district, utilizing existing streets as far as possible.

2. Clear all nonconforming (such as residential) and obsolete buildings situated within this perimeter.

3. Create a series of superblocks within the perimeter by closing all but two or three local streets.

4. Use cleared land to provide off-street parking facilities and fringe parking for all-day visits.

5. Create a landscaped pedestrian mall from certain closed streets to provide a pleasant and safe atmosphere for shoppers.

6. Provide space within the perimeter for expansion.

With these principles in mind, we developed a basic scheme for Appleton. There are Three superblocks (two with expansion possibilities) and there are parking facilities placed behind the store buildings in areas which have been cleared of nonconforming uses. Within the superblocks there are areas for pedestrian only. In order to provide the number of parking stalls that will be needed, some of the parking areas are designed as double-deck. (see Exhibit III)

The alternatives to this plan are to have potential business absorbed by (a) new isolated neighborhoods stores in the surrounding residential areas, (b) suburban shopping facilities, or (c) a major shopping center. If a major shopping center were built near the city, it would attract people not only from the city itself but also from the surrounding towns, thus draining the whole trade area and making the downtown sooner or later a ghost town.

Implementing Rehabilitation

But what are the steps to be taken to implement a rehabilitation program?
Obviously the initiative has to come from somewhere. It might come from the downtown businessmen’s associations or it might come from city officials. In any event, it will undoubtedly be desirable for all persons interested to organize into a downtown redevelopment commission. Within this commission there will be committees for legal work, for civic studies, for planning, and so on.

This downtown commission will need to retain the services of a firm qualified to do the over-all planning and to coordinate the work of specialists in all the necessary fields – land planning, economics, civil engineering, and traffic engineering – as well as to assume the architectural responsibility.

After the completion of a detailed survey of existing conditions to determine present and future buying potential and property evaluation, a master plan for redevelopment must be drawn up. This master plan should result in the removal of obsolete structures and the remodelling of unsightly buildings; in a constructive zoning plan with clearance of all nonconforming structures; n the creation of a new traffic pattern; in the introduction of malls, arcades, and walkways for pedestrians; and in the creation of green “buffer areas” or the protection of surrounding neighborhoods.

Conclusion

There is an obvious need for carefully planned suburban shopping centers. However, this need is recognized by most retailers and city planners today. There is also urgent need for revitalizing existing downtown shopping areas. It is in this field at present that there is a real challenge to local governments, business, retailers, and city planners.

If the cohesion obtained in single ownership centers is to be approximated in the rejuvenation of existing areas, cooperative action n the part of multiple interests is required. (This is the other side of the same coin as a scientific analysis of the whole situation.) Otherwise an effective parking plan, some semblance of sign control, elimination of garishness, and pleasing surroundings cannot be achieved.

In the same way that the need for a regional development can be determined by careful market, traffic, and land use studies, and its specific character set by architectural planning, so available analytical tools can be used to determine whether a given area justifies rehabilitation and precisely what type of treatment is most appropriate. There can be no rigid formulas, since local situations will differ and present their own special problems.

With respect to the question of land use, a word should be said about zoning. The present nature of zoning is part of the whole outmoded pattern, both downtown and in the suburbs. Zoning practices in downtown areas lead to a potpourri of residence, industry, and business.[18] Overzoning is exemplified in the suburbs by the business frontage lining highways in strip developments. Whenever a new traffic artery appears, it is zoned for business without consideration for the amount of business the community can support. Clearly there is a need for organized pressure to offset the continued generation of traffic.

Future prospects

Can it be done? Can our retail establishment be revitalized? Can our blighted cities be restored? I have no intention of assaying the role of either Cassandra or Pollyanna, but one thing is clear: all efforts so far have been half-hearted, hesitant, on too minute a scale to have a real effect. It is much too to prophesy that the downtown will be saved – despite the redevelopment boom throughout the country.

In all, 81 cities are estimated to have redeveloped plans in the final stage, and 28 have projects underway, including San Francisco, Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Norfolk.[19] However, to conclude that development is inevitable, or to believe that comprehensive planning for downtown areas has been “sold” to business, to other interested groups, and to the public, is to be overoptimistic.

There are, to be sure, groups such as Pittsburgh’s pioneering Allengheny Conference and the newly organized Civic Progress, Inc., in St. Louis, which are attempting to do a “selling” job regarding city planning. But as one writer states, “No great popular chorus is demanding the improvement of our cities.”[20]

Against the encouraging trends we have noted, we might cite the strong opposition to urban redevelopment in Cleveland and Los Angeles by private home builders and real estate interests. We read that the head of the National Parking Association believes that lack of public parking facilities is not an important factor affecting trade and that private enterprise and not the city should provide facilities where they are needed.[21] Then, too, there are innumerable instances where the cure for obsolescence is thought to be periodic remodelling of interiors and store fronts, a few street widenings, or other makeshift devices.

In the area of urban redevelopment, many problems cannot be solved overnight. Some which may seem extrinsic to the task of rehabilitating the retail establishment are, in the long run, quite relevant. Very little attention has been given, for example, to the question of tenant relocation in cases where slum-clearance programs are undertaken as part of the general redevelopment of an area for commercial or multipurpose use. Since subsidized housing is at a low ebb and since privately financed housing seems unable to cope with the need, this is a very real problem.

There will be those who feel “private enterprise can lick it,” and those who counter with “it’s the city’s job.” Here will be municipal and public apathy. There is clearly, however, a democratic responsibility for the condition of our urban environment, an environment which is today “a travesty on the productive genius and creative energy of America.”[22]

The time has come for action on a broad scale: slum clearance, creation of green areas within our city cores, provision of parking areas, improvement of traffic arteries, and enrichment of our social, cultural, and civic life. Management must accept its responsibilities, for hanging perilously in the balance are the city’s welfare and prosperity and the health of our economy.

(download pdf with pictures)

[1] See Athur B. Gallion, The Urban Pattern: City Planning and Design (New York, D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., 1950). P. 185

[2] See J. Ross McKeever, Shopping Centers: Principles and Policies, Technical Bulletin # 20 (Washington, Urban Land Institute, Inc., 1953), p. 7

[3]Women’s Wear Daily, October 15, 1952

[4] Quoted in a news story about an American Institute of Architects Regional Conference in October 1953: Architectural Forum, November, 1953, p. 58

[5]Women’s Wear Daily, September 21, 1953,

[6] John P. Alevizos and Allen E. Beckwith, Downtown & Suburban Shopping Study of Greater Boston (Boston University College of Business Administration, 1953), p. 20

[7] John P. Alevizos and Allen E. Beckwith, Downtown Dilemma” Harvard Business Review, January-February 1954, p. 118

[8] Joel Goldblatt of Goldblatt Brothers in Chicago as quoted in Women’s Wear Daily, April 20, 1953

[9] “Northland: A New Yardstick for Shopping Center Planning”, Architectural Forum, June 1954, p. 104

[10] Dorothy Thompson, “Commercialism Takes and Wears a New Look,” Ladies Home Journal, June 1954, p. 11

[11] Siegfried Gideon, “The Humanization of Urban Life,” Architectural Record, April 1952, p. 123

[12]Women’s Wear Daily, May 28, 1953

[13] “Central City Planning: the Next Step,” Stores, April 1954, p. 15

[14] See The Heart of the City: Towards the Humanization of Urban Life, edited by J. Tyrwhit, J.L. Sert, and E.N. Rogers (New York, Pellagrini and Cudahy, 1952).

[15] “Proposed Back BayCenter Development,”, Progressive Architecture, January 1954, p. 73

[16] “PennCenter,” Architectural Forum, April 1953, p. 148

[17] Richard Lawrence Nelson and Frederick Aschman, Conservation and Rehabilitation of Major Shopping Districts, Techical Bulletin # 22 (Washington, Urban Land Institute, Inc., February 1954), pp. 8-9

[18] For a discussion of industrial zoning, see Dorothy A. Muncy, “Land for Industry – A Neglected Problem,” Harvard Business Review, March-April 1954, p. 51

[19] “Full Circle or Decentralization,” Architectural Record, May 1954, p. 170

[20] Frank Fisher, “WhereCity Planning Stands Today,” Commentary, January 1954, p. 81

[21]Women’s Wear Daily, October 8, 1952

[22] Arthur B. Gallion, op. cit., p. 165


Attached files

Gruen_HBR_54 ( Gruen_HBR_54.pdf 698.03 KB )
Victor Gruen, Dynamic Planning for Retail Areas
Gruen_HBR_54Mall ( Gruen_HBR_54Mall.pdf 539.68 KB )
Victor Gruen, Progettazione dinamica delle zone commerciali







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