John King has an article about Jan Gehl, an urban designer who was brought in to consult with San Francisco about the Fisherman’s Wharf area. Not my favorite part of the city but I like his suggestions about how to improve the area. Perhaps if they’re implemented I’ll be more apt to visit the area.

an excerpt

Every city has its own topography and ambiance, says Jan Gehl, author of such urban design studies as 1971s “Life Between Buildings.” But he also says there are rules of thumb to keep in mind when crafting plans and reviving neighborhoods. Here are four:

Rein in the automobile. “For 50 years we were completely obsessed with making room for cars,” Gehl says. “We need to show respect for people who are moving about on foot or by bicycle.”

Accentuate the positive. “Celebrate the things that give a place its special character – views of mountains or water, historic buildings. If its nice for the locals, visitors will love to come there also.”

Emphasize the out-of-doors. “We do almost all our work indoors; we need to move in our leisure time. People want to walk, run, bicycle – or sit and enjoy the setting, have a cappuccino.”

Design for all ages. “Various groups in the population have various needs,” Gehl says. For instance, fold active playgrounds into a district – but put them where parents can relax with a glass of wine while children let off steam.

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