Planning Principle #3: No Backs

Planning Principle #3: No Backs

By: Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA, LEED AP   |   @bialosky_arch

We’ve been discussing optimal approaches to planning for pedestrian friendly people places. Once our network of pathways and roads has been created and we have established a reasonable block size, we’ve made it easy for people to traverse and permeate all sides of a town plan. We quickly come to understand how to make it much easier to navigate our town to get to work, to get home, and to patronize and service our businesses even in a dense urban environment. We have also created the opportunity and the necessity to treat all sides of the buildings appropriately and to activate them. While we can’t say that all sides are “fronts”, we can say that there are no “backs”, bringing us to our third organizing principle.

Blank Walls are Criminal3. No Backs: Blank walls, limited use zones, and other inhospitable spaces should be avoided in order to promote a safe environment. When these spaces are necessary, due to program requirements, they should be tied to other programmatic uses to stay active and maximize visibility.

There is nothing more daunting to walkable environments than blank walls. Building blocks have important functional requirements for public and private access, for service, and for places to dwell outside. Vertically integrated mixed uses present additional challenges for separating disparate uses while co-locating them within a block (we‘ll address this in a later principle!). Retailers usually prefer to have single points of access for security and control and merchandise against their outside walls; however, when these requirements dictate architectural form, we are left with harsh blank walls and uninviting pedestrian environments.

No Backs 2By adhering to the “No Backs” principle, we can create hierarchies for primary and secondary frontages, allow for service and separation of uses, and use these functional elements to activate our street fronts, alleyways and other passages and treat them in architecturally appropriate ways. Planning Departments, cities and towns all across the US are increasingly rejecting the car-centric, strip center mentality and suburban sprawl, engendering more walkable healthy environments.

We asked Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA, LEED AP, Senior Principal of Bialosky Cleveland to discuss the Seven Planning Principles his firm uses for community design. This is a closer look at Principle #3: No Backs.

Want to dig deeper? Join us on Wednesday, July 20 at 2 p.m. EST for a free webinar featuring Jack and his colleague David W. Craun, AIA, LEED AP. Principal and Director of Design at Bialosky Cleveland.

About the Firm: 

Bialosky ClevelandBialosky Cleveland is one of the region’s most successful architectural design firms, as evidenced by awards that honor the firm’s practice management, design excellence and commitment to community. The multi-disciplinary firm has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects as an AIA Ohio Gold Medal Firm, the highest honor awarded by its peers, in recognition of great depth and breadth, a collaborative environment, and having a cumulative effect on the profession over a substantial period of time.

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