Architects in Michigan have learned so much information about design. Design from the past about cities, public spaces and smaller scale places, as well as design elements of the present. But many elements from the past inform how we design today.
Ebenezer Howard created the idea of the Garden City in the 1890’s. It was an idea of an alternated city, which addressed all problems of the city. A planned city where there was a place for everything a city would need, Industrial, schools, housing, shopping, farming and everything else. If you have ever read The Death and Life of Great American Cities, you know how the author, Jane Jacobs, feels about the idea of orthodox modern city planning. I love reading Jacobs book because she doesn’t hold back from telling the reader the full truth of her feelings. “Howard’s aim was the creation of self-sufficient small towns, really very nice towns if you were docile and had no plans of your own and did not mind spending your life among others with no plans of their own”. For a very long time, and even a little today, the Garden City has been an inspiration to city planners, officials who believe they are city planners and even planners who had no interest in the Garden City have made decisions based off this idea and its underlying principles. Architects in Michigan deal with these ideas when it comes to zoning in our hometowns, only certain kinds of structures can go in specified places, and this concept is from the Garden City.
Fredrick Law Olmstead thought about how people would use outdoor spaces, families after a long day of work, people walking to work, and what a park would mean to them, how it would affect their actions. When Berman praises the cut of the boulevards through the town and the slums, he had the reaction he was looking for, to bring the people together, and make carriage rides more efficient through town, but so much more came out of it that didn’t seem to be planned. They expected the people In the slums to go find a new place to live and new spaces to hang around in, as they always have done. But these new boulevards were too exciting for them to want to be anywhere else! And the effect of the traffic on the pedestrians made them feel so unsafe. I feel like Berman did not quite understand all of the effects that would take place in these boulevards and didn’t realize they would be exposing the poor or setting up dangerous situations of pedestrians vs traffic, where Olmstead seamed to understand all the great effects the parks would have on the public, he just needed to keep convincing people to plan at the right times and to leave room for these areas when they city expanded. Architects in Michigan use these principles when looking at public parks and other public landscapes.
I do believe both are very future driven in their ideas, as most urban architects are, even though Olmstead was not really an urban architect, he took on the role of urban planning in landscape architecture. They both see the cities growing and know there needs to be a better way to connect people to each other and to places they want to be. Olmstead sees that parks are stress relievers from urban life and bring together the diverse American people and the same can be said for the boulevards. So many people on the streets from all different backgrounds come together to share the exciting lifestyle. Architects in Michigan look at both the built and the natural environment to make an urban space liveable, walkable and somewhere people want to be. They both had the same intentions of connecting people in the urban space, the greenways connected other green spaces and park while the boulevards connected important nodes of the city. Although the parks were also about connecting people to each other and I don’t believe the same effect came from the boulevards.
These are vital elements of an urban framework Public transit, Walkable, Live/work, Resources close at hand [grocery, school, parks, hardware] Similar to the neighborhood unit, I like the neighborhood unit because It puts most vital resources within walking distance of the family home or apartment. Emphasis on healthy lifestyle [bikeshare and walking] Large focus on social equality and healthy children Decently priced housing for students and single parents. Sustainability in the city [manage stormwater. Bioswales, green roofs, gardens, multiple farmers markets] emphasis on shopping local and less waste
Many architects in Michigan enjoy the cleanliness of mid-century modern design. It has a closeness with nature and not a lot of excess, it goes well with an idea of a city with less waste. The geometric style of that can play into the layout of the city. I think having multiple city centers would be an interesting idea. I like that idea because it will bring more people into public spaces because they won’t have to travel so far to get to these mini-centers. Typical City Centers hold a high value, so not many middle or working class people can live near them, if you spread 5 or so out, and distribute the businesses, plazas and larger public spaces, more residence will have access to these great areas. Naturally some will get larger than others, but each area will have the bones to grow into integral pieces of the city as a whole. Public outdoor spaces used for gardens, bioswales, farmers markets, parks, and pavilions, emphasis on being self-sufficient with healthy foods, eliminate costs of imported food to the city. Farmland, greenhouses and vineyards are dotted outside these focals, but not restricted to one area. These areas should be highly connected through bike and walking paths and public transit. It will not be a car focused area because these focals are spread out in order to be close to residences, so they don’t need to drive. Public transit is less wasteful than buying new cars, salting and maintaining the roads. Invest in public transit instead. Architects in Michigan will have an emphasis on housing for people who need a little help, such as students, single parents, and some others. Also an emphasis on children’s health through education and community programs.