The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.

Public Spaces

Around the network: Making room for people rather than cars

We talk a lot on this blog about the way that government policy can help to create livable streets. But we don't often discuss the role that individual property owners can play when they're inspired to create a more pedestrian-friendly space.

The owner of this property in Miami has decided to convert a parking lot to a terrace.
Today's post, from Streetsblog Network member Urban City Architecture, gives an example of how—by converting a small parking lot to a terrace—one business owner in Miami's Brickell neighborhood is contributing to an increasingly vital streetscape:

It seems that recent development and new emphasis on the pedestrian landscape has encouraged a property owner in Brickell to replace a small surface (parking) lot in front of a building with more pedestrian-oriented and occupiable urban space fronting the sidewalk instead. Over the last couple of months, workers have been busy transforming the old parking spaces into an elevated outdoor seating space for what I presume will be a restaurant (or expansion of the existing restaurant next door).

In essence, the integration of the building within the urban fabric has been reconfigured to make it more responsive to pedestrians and more fitting with its surroundings. Prior to these changes, the building?s parking layout served as a physical and visual barrier between the pedestrian and the building. Much in the same way that buildings are setback behind inhospitable and unwalkable parking in the suburbs—pedestrians walking the streets were not greeted by a building facade or window but rather by a long row of car exhausts and vehicle bumpers that contribute nothing to the urban atmosphere.

Luckily, the transformation of the space will change this unfavorable dynamic and create a more lively and active environment on the streets.

It's part of a process that the post's author, Adam Mizrahi, likes to call "automobile attrition." And it's an intriguing example of how, when a neighborhood achieves some livable streets momentum, the dead space created by cars and parking becomes more apparent.

More from around the network: Newton Streets and Sidewalks talks about how more roads don't ease congestion; Urban Milwaukee has a personal story about how senior citizens can get shut out of walkable neighborhoods; and The Infrastructurist looks at why Hawaii got complete streets legislation and Missouri didn't.

Cross-posted from Streetsblog.

Sarah Goodyear is a contributor to Streetsblog. She focuses on highlighting the many interesting articles across the national Streetsblog Network, of which Greater Greater Washington is a member. 


we have a similar problem in DC below Florida Avenue. As parking spaces curbside for residents disappear owners cut down trees and pave over their rear yards for parking pads. When I moved in there was not a single rear parking pad between S and Swann. Now almost every house has one instead of rear yards.

The increased amount of ground covered by concrete and the loss of trees has pushed us to the limit of what is healthy air quality and sufficient ground water level in neighborhoods below Florida. Increased costs for storm drainage into the Potomac is also astounding.

Whether you own a house or not, it's important to all of us to somehow provide incentives for homeowners to take up these concrete pads and restore rear yards and trees.

by Tom Coumaris on May 29, 2009 8:29 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

You can use some HTML, like <blockquote>quoting another comment</blockquote>, <i>italics</i>, and <a href="http://url_here">hyperlinks</a>. More here.

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.


Support Us