Planning Principle #5: To Dwell

Planning Principle #5: To Dwell

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

In order to really focus on pedestrianism, along with a hierarchy of pathways, shorter blocks, and activated facades, is a desire to make a sense of place. One of the best ways to design safe and comfortable walkable environments is to stop thinking of sidewalks and corridors only as places to pass through on the way to somewhere else and to begin to think of them as places to inhabit and to linger. To do this, it is often helpful to think of the street section as a series of outdoor rooms.

To Dwell
Photo Credit: Hank Rapport

5. To Dwell: sidewalk and corridor environments are as much for dwelling as they are for passage and should be places that encourage interaction, collaboration and restoration. The design of lighting, vegetation and furniture all play a key role in allowing indoor and outdoor passages to become places of gathering by making safe, comfortable and convenient spaces.

To make a sense of place requires the establishment of a street wall, which should vary in height and proportion in relation to its width, the level of traffic designed to flow down the street, and the proposed uses for the buildings which may engender sidewalk seating and activities for public and private uses. Building walls should not be too distant from the street the space doesn’t feel contained. Form-Based Zoning seeks to address this issue with maximums as opposed to minimum requirements. Sidewalks should be wide enough to pass comfortably, but not too wide which makes routes feel empty and less active. Tighter feels better. Sidewalks should also have amenities, like benches and other places to sit, bike racks, pedestrian level lighting, and room for plantings. The single most important feature of successful streetscapes, besides having them populated with people who have a reason to be there (and by the way, mixed-use ensures more people more times of day will be on the streets), are street trees. If you think about your most favorite places and streets, I’ll bet that most of them include places where there are overhanging canopies of trees that provide shade and contribute to the street wall and sense of place.

To Dwell
Photo Credit: Hank Rapport

Obvious places to dwell in outdoor environments include dining patios or terraces, fountains and other areas for outdoor play. They may be formal or informal, soft or hardscaped. Less obvious but equally essential are small nodes for resting and people watching and can be formed in many ways. These spaces are different than the #4 pedestrian experience which is about passing through interesting spaces, the above are spaces to engage for longer periods of time, and we can think of them as eddies in a stream.


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 #5: To Dwell.

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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