Mixing Home, Work, Culture and Recreation – Designing Cities

Mixing Home, Work, Culture and Recreation – Designing Cities


[MUSIC] Welcome back. In the last session, I argued that human
contact, and the creativity that it, it produces is the
essential purpose of the city. Now the city was not always seen that way. In 1880, when the European and American cities were going through the rapid
process of industrialization, cities were seen
basically as a place to house the employees that ran the
factories. And in many Asian cities today, factories owners build dormitory towns
beside their plants. We’ll see in week seven how the
industrialists were among the first people who imagined the new form of cities that
was required for this industrial era. But, so much of the 20th century, public
bodies considered their main task to be that of separating out industry from
residential areas, leisure areas from commerce in the
city. The city was to be a tiny collection of
single use areas. People would be living at a distance from
where they worked but also at a distance from the smokestacks
and the trucks and the trains. And large pleasure palaces would be built
at the shores of the ocean, but not in the middle of
residential areas. So when we look back on that era 50 years
from now, it’s probably going to seem as something of an anomaly. Before industrialization, uses of the city
were all mixed up. I noted earlier that in the 18th century
in Philadelphia, was a city where orchards and factories were
located in the spaces between houses. Artisans lived above the shop and their
employees were out back. Living conditions weren’t great, but you
didn’t have to commute, and many people could live almost their entire
lives within their neighborhood. In smaller ways, some of the mixing of use
has survived even through the great sorting
out period of American history. There were corner stores in residential
areas, doctors offices on the ground floor of apartment towers, rows of shops
below the offices in many downtowns. And even some downtown housing areas that
found its way into the corridor of commercial districts. But
in many cities, housing was actually prohibited downtown, in office
areas, and certainly in industrial areas. And workplaces were excluded from
residential areas. So today, cities are rediscovering the
virtue of mixing things up again. We explore why and how and what the
challneges are in this session. So let’s start with mixed-use buildings. Creating a complete city in a single
building has been an aspiration of every architect
with a large ego. Frank Lloyd Wright produced a vision for
Illinois Sky City in 1956, which is shown here. It would be a building a mile high, with
528 stories squeezed in each one just the right height
for his short stature. There would be everything you needed, work spaces, residences, shops, recreation
places, even parking for 15,000 cars. And 150 helicopters in case you needed to
travel to another mile-high city. The lobbies would be the plazas, and the
elevators would be the new streets. Nobody has built a mile-high city, but a
variety of tall buildings have been built that mix uses
within a single structure. The John Hancock building in Chicago contains parking and offices at the
bottom. Housing at the top, shops, restaurants, and a sky lobby
halfway up with a swimming pool and a health club. The top of the tower is smaller than the
bottom, since every room in a house needs room light, and you can work a long distance from the windows in an
office space. There are dozens of tall buildings in Asia
that mix uses. The Jin MaoTower in Shanghai is offices
topped off by a wonderful hotel with an atrium
that starts on the 40th floor. And the current record holder for tall
buildings, the Burj Kalifa in Dubai which is half a mile
high. Has a hotel, apartments, clubs, and
recreation facilities. Office suites for corporations and other
uses. It tapers to the top where it is small
enough so that only a single company or person
owns the floor. This along with the Hancock and Jin Mao Towers was designed by the Chicago
office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Perhaps inspired by Frank Lloyd Wrights
vision for the mile high city. But Frank Lloyd Wright had to settle for
less. In Bartlesville, Oklahoma he designed the
Price Tower that contained on every floor both housing and offices, so you could
live next door to your work. The building is now 60 years old and
continues to be a mixed-use building. Recently, several of the floors were taken
over by a small boutique hotel. This flexibility was possible because of
the ingenious floor plan. With four modules on the floor that could
be reached independently or combined. But a building need not be tall to mix
work, and living, and shopping. One of my favorite mixed-use buildings is
in Oakland, California, the Rockridge Market
Hall, just across the street from the Rockridge transit station. It sticks to the scale of the residential neighborhood, and in just three floors
combines shopping including your fresh fruit market, restaurants,
other shops, offices, mainly inhabited by psychiatrists, and
housing at the top. Each of the upper floor uses has a
separate lobby and entrance. The ground level adds life to the streets,
while providing convenient environment for those who live
and work there. This is also the case in Boston, at
Heritage on the Garden. A wonderful mixed-use project, just across
from the public garden. Retail shops occupy the ground level. Then there are six stories of offices,
which fill out the entire block. And five stories of residential
condominiums at the top. Since the housing wants to have shallower
depths than the offices, it is set back from the street, which serves
also to retain the scale of the street. In the US a variety of hurdles make it
difficult to build mixed-use projects. These include zoning restrictions,
financing difficulties, ownership considerations, and the
resistance of tenants. But in many other countries there are long traditions of mixing living in with shops
and offices. Here in Harijuku, one of the most edgy neighborhoods of
Tokyo, every building contains a mixture, all
within four stories. In most areas of Tokyo, there are no
restrictions on the kind of uses that can inhabit
buildings. Only restrictions on the form of the
building, especially not allowing it to block light down to the
street level. The result is a wonderful hodgepodge of
small buildings which are set back from the street to allow
light to penetrate. Usually housing is at the top, and offices
below, but there is no universal rule. In Tapei, housing and offices and shops
are also allowed most buildings. There is just one rule, offices can’t be
above housing. That way noise and security aren’t compromised by outsiders visiting the
building. One of the most important virtues of
mixed-use buildings in areas is that they avoid what this
image shows, dark, uninhabited streets that seem unsafe
to walk at night. Mixed-use areas are active 24/7. The Dutch have learned this lesson well,
and in most commercial areas they layer
housing above shops. In the new town of Almere, outside of
Amsterdam, a second ground level has been built above
the shops. The housing ranges from three to 15 stories, and there are just enough people
to assure that the streets are never empty. And the mix of people throughout the day
and night is impressive. Many people come to the center by car and
park in the garage below it, but an equal
number walk there or come from the Almere Centrum which is
the train station that connects the new town to the
rest of Holland. I visited mid-winter.
And while the Dutch are hardy people, the streets were equally filled as
in summer. They demonstrate that well-designed
outdoor shopping places can work, even in cold climates. Residential areas above the shops enjoy
green roofs, and outdoor spaces where they can go outside to take in the
wonderful summer weather. There’s almost as much greenery at Almere
now as before the development. And in a Northern climate, with plenty of gray
skies, color is also appreciated. Here the buildings are entered directly
from the retail level, or the parking below. And each building has shops at its base. Almere City Center is also well endowed
with cultural institutions. A performing arts center, and a place for practicing the arts, music, ceramics,
painting, and so on. Movie theaters, museums, and best of all,
a wonderful public library. It is open to all and encouraged people to
pick up books as they enter, sit down and
browse through them. The library is also filled from the moment
it opens, with people who work there in their small
service businesses. They take advantage of fast internet
connections. And at night, the library is a beacon of
light. Open late into the evening. Designing for day and night was a central
idea behind the Sony Center in Berlin. There is a place for spectacles and music
and is the host venue for the Berlin Film
Festival. Below, below its plaza are a dozen movie
theaters and experimental test beds for new types
of Sony entertainment. There is also a large IMAX theater. Integrated into the complex is the German Film Archive open to all. Shops surround the plaza which consists of
a mixture of offices, housing and other work a day
functions. Sony Center is really two different
places. The second layer of buildings facing the
street are much more staid and conform to the ethos of Berlin’s controlled facades.
All limit to 30 meters in height. Only a single tower for the German
Railways punctuates the skyline marking a key edge of the
Potsdamer Platz. The idea of an inner and outer world was clear in Helmut Jahn’s first sketches for
Sony Center. Sometimes a first sketch gets its exactly
right. And even with, you know, limited height,
the Sony headquarters is a head-turning
building, with its atrium on the 7th floor, and its training and
childcare facilities at ground level so all can see
them. And while the grand plaza may be buzzing at night, it is positively serene during
the day. Perfectly acceptable for the residents of
the housing building that’s shown. There is not one formula for creating a
lively mixed-use center. Each must be designed with local
conditions in mind. In Atlanta, Georgia, a new center called
Atlantic Station has risen on a former Brownfield
site. It combines offices, housing,
entertainment uses, and shopping in a compact center. It is designed so that its streets are
lively at least 16 hours a day. The site was the home of the Atlantic Seal Company for many decades
and left a legacy of badly polluted soil and
water. The urban design is ingenious. The tall buildings are located near the expressway and shielded the area from
noise. The lower residential buildings provide the interface with the adjacent
neighborhoods. New parks have been created around the
complex beyond the areas that are polluted to provide
green relief from the high density areas. But the really ingenious move was to
construct the commercial area over two story parking structure that is shared by
all the uses on this site. It has a practical purpose of providing a
cap for the seriously polluted ground. But it also allows parking to be shared. Office workers in this car and its city
need parking spaces in the day. Those who are there for the movies need
them in the evening. And residents need them overnight. By sharing, they can get away with a lot
less parking. And habits are changing with more people
using Transit Atlanta, and the Atlantic Center allows people to forgo
buying a second car. A lot of people have decided they’d rather
be near entertainment and restaurants, and the
area is crowded with people. Atlanta has one of the fastest growing downtown
populations in an American city. While the site is dense, there’s room for
green spaces and less polluted land surrounding it, which benefit the new
residents as well as the neighbors. Living, working, and shopping, and playing
in a compact neighborhood is become the formula for attracting the
creative class to cities. We’ve becoming increasingly comfortable
with mixing them side by side, one over the other, or even within the
same building. Tribeca, New York is at the vanguard of
this movement. But it is also finding its way into
suburban developments, as here in Portland, Oregon at Orenco Station, which is a transit-oriented
development. And even where you might not expect it, as
in this small mixed-use development in the
Florida resort town of Seaside. You know the city is changing when people on vacation want to be able to work and shop in the same building where they are
recreating. As we have seen, mixed-use areas have many
advantages. On a purely practical side, they save land
by avoiding such things as costly parking and infrastructure that
sits idle for more than half the day. Mixing uses is actually the real key to
creating 24 hour cities. They build a market for shops,
restaurants, entertainment and culture. People that are living there are working
there. It’s not accidental that the cultural
attractions in the cities that have been greatly successful are usually
areas that have housing around them. They create eyes on the street, over the
day and the night and result in places that are
more secure. Some of the finest areas of cities are places with a broad
mixture of uses. Think, for example, of the Old City of
Bern, Switzerland, with people living over shops and wonderful
arcades that connect the city together. Or think of the emerging area of Chelsea
with its gritty mixture of museums, galleries, condominiums above them.
even one of the most expensive condominiums sits next door to a
women’s prison. As cities make the transition to being
service economies, and the suburbs are forced to do so as well, it will be proximity and mixing it
up that will be valued much more than neatly
separated environments. Next week we’ll go into a little more
detail on this as to how to create places that are
valued reflect these kind of virtues.
Please join us.

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