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January 30, 2019

5 Design Strategies for Creating Timeless Streetscapes

Timeless design can be defined by the use of classic proportions and a pleasing creation of space. But, to our team, it goes beyond that. We strive to create environments that adapt without losing their original intent, allowing for repurposing, new additions and reimaginations, so the end result works as well in the present, as it will in the future. 

This month, we asked Carisa McMullen, Shannon Gordon and Brian Sturm to share how they achieve timeless streetscape design. Together, they identified these five strategies: 

  1. Create opportunities to engage with all stakeholders. Seek and collect input from as many people who use and interface with the street as possible. This ensures the street functions well for everyone in the community. 
  2. Manage for all modes of transportation. Include public transit, pedestrians of all abilities, motorists and cyclists in your plans. 
  3. Define the nodes and corridors. Think of the street as a series of interconnected and unique spaces. Then, develop a design language that speaks to the users of each node, characterizing each as original, according to function or context. Identify those offering a variety of land uses that can engage with the street, as well as pedestrian areas to activate the corridor.
  4. Generate a vibrant palette of materials. Select functional and beautiful combinations of pavements, walls, railings, furnishings, plants, etc. Consider how all amenities will be maintained in both the short and long-term. Utilize planting areas to treat stormwater where possible. While look and feel should be of high importance, durability cannot be disregarded .  
  5. Ensure the final product is built as designed. Rigorously administer the construction process so the finished streetscape gains character as it ages.