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New Urbanism

In: Social Issues

Submitted By michaelanthony
Words 1419
Pages 6
The common definition for new urbanism is a type of urban design to develop walkable and socially active neighborhoods for people between housing and their jobs. I believe new urbanism as being this form of development that is similar to how cellphones came about. Before we had simple telephones in the house and then cellphones were made and then added with all these features that could link us with people from farther distances. With new urbanism, its taking a simple town and having it expand with sidewalks and strategic designing (little features) like front porches and detached garages to help expand their interaction with their neighbors instead of staying inside their homes all day. The way new urbanism helps to influence and promote social interaction is by strategically placing housing and its essentials in areas where social interaction would be at its highest. This new approach to neighborhood designing works because they can provide affordable housing with reduced traffics congestion and they can also develop social interaction with the towns’ residents by keeping everything close and easily accessible for use like parks and recreation facilities.
One example that I believe stands out the most for architecture and design is the beginning of the walk on North Street from Fell Ave to Broadway Street. They absolutely redid everything to make it look more modern and welcoming to people to have them feel more comfortable to walk down the street. They have benches on both sides of North Street with tables and chairs outside some of the little restaurants like Jimmy Johns, the CoffeeHound and The Rock Restaurant. I think this has an element of new urbanism because on North Street they have a CVS, which has Apartments over it, which then those residents can easily walk down and take advantage of the stores and theatres on the street. I believe this increases the chances for social interaction because this street has a good vibe feeling to it with the new design looking buildings and the wide sidewalks with seating basically every twenty feet. People sitting outside can then interact with people walking by, having a theatre also on the street improves community interaction because by going there it creates the possibility of seeing someone you know with people you don't know. This also creates community interaction because it is not far from a lot of resident’s houses and apartments that are not directly on campus but about a 10 minute walk away because of everything the street has to offer with food, entertainment, postal office and a convenient store. Another addition to this design of the community was the development of the Marriot Hotel. With this hotel comes visitors from all over, and to keep them coming back, the town of Normal needed to have something in their community that exemplified what a true community is and that is why they renovated Uptown and North Street with new buildings and places to eat and places of entertainment. The area that serves as the highest rating of density is down Beaufort Street with all of the restaurants and bars being so close to each other. The design of this area is to keep everything close to each other so that residents could easily access each place with no trouble at all. It is also right next to the train station, which leads to people coming in and out. On the other side of the tracks are apartment buildings, which are only a 5-10 minute walk to get to Beaufort Street, which is easy to access with sidewalks on both Linden Street and Broadway Street. The reason for high density in this community was for more efficient provision of public services. On North Street and also Beaufort Street I clearly noticed the fact that they had wide sidewalks and benches all over. On Constitution they had a sidewalk in the middle of the street with a whole map of the campus on it. I feel like this kind of gave that safe feeling to it with the trees on both sides of the middle sidewalk to have a protective feeling to it. With having those wide sidewalks it helps promote pedestrians to walk because they feel a sense of safety with it, having a small narrow sidewalk isn’t really to safe and can lead to people to drive instead because they would feel safer in their car than the sidewalk. The parking on these streets are pretty reasonable. On almost every street you can parallel park on them, but if there are no spots available, then on the corner of Broadway and Beaufort with a huge parking lot that is right in Uptown. I noticed as I walked towards Constitution Blvd that they had that center island of open grass and benches with a moat of water around it that created a calm feeling for the town. This was definitely a clear sign of a public place that they are trying to encourage social interaction with the community members. Another example of public space to be used for social interaction was Constitution Trail. Having the trail in the middle of the town helps promote social interaction with bikers and runners passing each other, but also they have benches so people can relax and maybe interact with one another. The town of Normal put in this Circle Diagram so that it could help accommodate events and activities such as farmers markets and festivals. It was designed solely on the point of increasing social interaction and social capital between one another within the community. On both North Street and Beaufort Street they have buildings that are used for residential living and places to eat or shop. On North Street they put In a CVS that had apartments on top of it to help bring people closer to Broadway Street and all of its amenities. On Beaufort Street they put in apartments over the top of the bar called Uptown 138 which puts them right on top of Uptown square with all of the other stuff Uptown has to offer. Having apartments directly above a convenient store makes it easier for people to walk down to the store without having to get in their car where no interaction would be possible. With having the apartments above the bar in Uptown it gives the residents a feeling of freedom from their car because everything is within walking distance, and having a bar right there is the leader in social interaction because everybody goes to a bar to talk to one another rather than just sit around at home. Now even though Uptown 138 has closed recently, I believe this community still thrives with social interaction because of the bars and restaurants they have right next to it including Maggy Miley’s and the Pub 2. I do and I don't believe that New Urbanism designs can help promote social interaction and develop social capital. I believe a community is credited to the type of interaction that residents have with one another, obviously. New Urbanism is formed with their design principles being shaped to encourage resident interaction and increase the chances of fostering sense of community. However, informal interaction between residents is not enough to significantly affect an individual’s sense of community. Therefore I think the only way to affectively create a stable and quality community is with formal interaction being used on the residents of the community. Another reason why I think New Urbanism can sometimes fail, and a point I agree with, is because of what Etzioni said about his third criterion to his key propositions of a community, responsiveness. He says that a community needs to be authentic, “a community must be highly responsive in meeting the true needs of all the community members” and “In contrast, a community that responds to and meets the true needs of some members or groups but not others is termed partial community. The partial community, therefore, represents an imposed social order on those members who true needs are not met.” I agree with this 100%, the only way to have this New Urbanism design work is with everyone in the community being satisfied. Though everyone will not like every aspect of the community, there are always alternates to things that people don't like. For example if some people prefer to drive to any place, incorporate more parking. If they would rather walk, make sure there are plenty of walkways and sidewalks that are safe for walking.

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