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It’s the simple things….

 

Earlier this year, I attended the 30 year anniversary of Seaside, the landmark resort town planned by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company in the panhandle of Florida.  During the trip I had the opportunity to explore by foot and by bike many of the aspects that make the early New Urbanist resort towns of Seaside and Rosemary Beach such great places.

Walkability has always been one of primary principles guiding the design of the New Urbanism and the simple yet elegant mid-block pedestrian connections at Seaside and Rosemary Beach make both communities great environments for pedestrians.  I will most likely explore other aspects of these communities and the lessons learned in future posts. DSCN1892

The pedestrian paths at Seaside are strategically located in mid-block locations and encourage walking to the Central Square, beach, and other destinations within town and beyond.  The location of these pathways expands the pedestrian shed by creating more direct routes and shortcuts.  By simply laying out the location of these paths early in the design process they allow a great place to incorporate utilities and other unsightly items that do not belong in the streetscape.  There almost always exists a need to create easements for various utilities in planned communities and by working early on in the design process to create more than invisible no man’s land between lots a valuable community asset can be created.  While the streets at Seaside are predictably narrow and low speed pedestrian friendly spaces who wouldn’t rather stroll through the pleasant shortcuts between and behind homes to reach their destinations.

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The pathways at Rosemary Beach are considerably more refined and larger in scale than the paths at Seaside.  Many of the paths are defined by an at grade boardwalk as opposed to crushed shell.  These paths still serve the same function and encourage a short cut or more direct route to the beaches and other destinations within town while providing an efficient use of space to accommodate utilities.  Most homes have direct access to these rear yard paths which lead to the beaches or one of the iconic beachside common greens.

Both of these communities effectively use the mid-block connections and rear pedestrian lanes to encourage walkability and utilize the needed space for the placement of unsightly above ground utilities.  It seems like a pretty simple thing to do in the creation of a community. 3/29/2011