I’ve been serving on a committee with my little town to try to sort out some design guidelines for our ‘commercial district’. If you’ve ever been to Harvard,MA you might ask yourself – what commercial district? And that is sort of the point. For generations this tiny town has had an area where business related buildings generally hang out (Ayer Road between Rt.2 and the roundabout) but which also includes a lot of residential, conservation, and other general randomness – all of which is pretty unattractive, difficult to access (too many curb cuts) and represents the exact thing you get in design when you don’t try to get anything (a mess).
I stumbled across this fantastic video this morning by Alain de Botton which I plan to share with my cohorts. I think more people should watch it…so please, if you find it interesting too – do share. My only criticism for this is that I would have liked Alain to also have highlight the broad reaching health benefits of these better cities because I think beauty and good design has the ability to substantially impact our lives in terms off quality of living, fitness, stress, and other heath conscious ways we don’t give enough credit to.
So – I do have a question for you related to all of this – I could use some research help. I am looking for cities, towns, hamlets (etc.) that have done a good job (specifically with landscape design) in their commercial districts. We want our commercial area to walkable, social, beautiful, safe, but also in keeping with our small town new england setting. If you know of a place or guidelines for landscapes that would be useful for us to study as we write our own guidelines, I’d be hugely grateful for the lead.
Thanks – Rochelle