Takin’ it to the Streets – “the human scale of the individual”

Takin’ it to the Streets – “the human scale of the individual”

“Takin’ It to the Streets” is the title of a classic Doobie Brothers song. It’s also a groovy little reminder to get back to basics and appreciate the immense role streets play in defining a community’s character, supporting the activities of its residents and visitors, and providing for sustainable, smart growth.

In presenting its Sustainable Street Network Principles, the Congress for the New Urbanism writes:

We assert that current transportation engineering addresses only limited individual components of the region’s street network. This results in a fragmented and inefficient system that fails to adequately engage the social, environmental, and economic aspirations of communities.  

We advocate a return to the historic understanding of the street network as a fundamental framework for safe, livable communities, where the human scale of the individual and the act of walking represent the basic unit of design.

The organization then goes on to delineate principles for achieving this “return to historic understanding of the street network”—principles you can see at work in many of our projects. Gardner’s Park is a good recent example, where walkable, beautiful tree-lined street networks and pocket gardens provide the perfect backdrop for events, meeting with friends, taking in great local art, and enjoying an inspiring stroll. In projects like this, the streets become an integral feature in the design, rather than a utilitarian afterthought.

The Doobie Brothers song has a message about opening our eyes to what isn’t working, and then rolling up our sleeves to make things better. Urban planning and design in recent decades has often lost sight of the importance of street networks beyond serving as a way for motorized transportation to get from Point A to Point B. Ensite is committed to re-instituting the “human scale of the individual” as the driving principle behind how we design our urban spaces.

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