PlanPhilly

Wood Street steps

By Andrew Goodman
Planner, PennPraxis

“It is difficult to design a space that will not attract people. What is remarkable is how often this has been accomplished.” – William Whyte

Urban design creates a framework for our lives, so understanding how humans perceive the physical scale and form of cities is essential to mastering it.

We feel and experience urban design every day. Sites can be so masterfully designed that we may take the built environment as a given, not thinking twice about how we respond to our surroundings. However, assumptions about human nature lie behind every house and intersection. Every road width and building height delivers a message to their users on how to use the public realm.

Design brings order and relation into human surroundings, often so well that we cannot imagine them in any other form. Different designs affect residents in different ways, and make the city’s image more vivid and memorable.

Embedded in urban design theories is the fundamental goal of balancing private development and public good in a way that incorporates the social, economic, and cultural needs of a diverse urban population.

This balance can take many different forms, as we can see in many examples within Philadelphia itself. ... read more

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