Does Decorative Site Work Have a Place in Today's Urban Landscape?
Published on 10/8/21
Between budget constraints, minimalist trends, and even mandates for hostile architecture, both civil and private urban projects seem to increasingly place aesthetics at a lower priority. But bare-bones design actively works against many of the goals set by municipalities and the businesses that operate within them.
In this post, we make the case for decorative design as an indispensable part of the current urban landscape, even when pressures abound.
Creating a Distinctive Character
Too much pragmatism in the urban design field is cultivating monotony in our city spaces. Instead of embracing architecture and site design that offers a unique sensory experience, our downtowns and main streets are becoming homogenized. This erasure of local character threatens a city’s ability to compete on a national and even international level, eliminating much of the draw that motivates tourism and residential relocation.
Connecting with local culture and history should be essential for any urban landscape. Fostering a sense of place through iconic site work can harness public interest and create fertile ground for even more lucrative developments.
Seattle serves as an excellent example of a city that has leveraged decorative site work to magnify its local character. The Olympic Sculpture Park reflects the city’s cutting-edge spirit with modern and angular structural concrete installations, and the famous waterfront is slated for a facelift that will deploy extensive aesthetic design. Recognizing the importance of having an appealing urban scene is undoubtedly a great contributor to Seattle’s ranking as one of America’s top tourist destinations and largest regional economies.
Building active urban centers with thriving commerce requires making these spaces magnetic in their attraction. People must be drawn to visit and spend their time in an area, and a handsome setting goes a long way toward accomplishing that.
In the right spaces, good decorative site work can set an ideal stage for community events such as art showings, farmer’s markets, festivals, and other activities that promote tourism and stimulate the area economy.
Across the globe, in the city of Łódź, Poland, the Manufaktura development features a large open square that is home to beautiful site work. Surrounded by eateries and geometrically divided with patches of green, the square attracts many visitors for both regular use and popular events, including concerts, carnivals, and even sports competitions.
Encouraging Pedestrianism & Ridesharing
Traffic and parking capacity is becoming an urgent issue in many American cities, even those that are relatively modest in size. Urban planners and government officials are looking to ease the pressure by incentivizing walking and ridesharing. However, motivating people to use these more efficient forms of transportation is an uphill battle if the city’s infrastructure does not easily facilitate them.
Incorporating more decorative and structural site work into the urban landscape can grow a population’s receptiveness toward pedestrianism. By creating spaces that are pleasant and practical to traverse by foot and wait for rides, streetsides can invite greater use and even improve pedestrian safety. Furthermore, encouraging visitors to walk through a streetscape rather than drive and park at their exact destination can diversify business patronage and inspire greater consumer spending.
Some of the best demonstrations of this concept can be seen in streets that have converted to “pedestrian only” designs. Miami’s Lincoln Road is a fantastic representative, sporting boldly colored structural concrete that serves as both seating and retaining walls for tropical landscaping and water features. Built-in coverings and striped concrete designates leisure zones, while bike rack installations and bollard-lined bays signal natural drop-off points.
Decorative Site Work Builds Better Cities
Both public and private developments have much to gain from incorporating more aesthetic site design into their construction. If your project is located in San Diego County, CCI can help you reap all the benefits of building with utility and beauty.
Our firm specializes in general engineering, structural concrete, and decorative site work, giving you the full spectrum of services necessary to pull off a design that pleases all stakeholders and makes your site a landmark of its local market.