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Blogs of Note: Granola Shotgun

Attempt at walkable urbanism is an area where walking is an afterthought

Granola Shotgun focuses on housing developments, apartments and condos, and how they occupy and interact with the space they are in. Sometimes the design works, sometimes not. Posts are long, thoughtful, with lots of photos illustrating the concepts and thoughts.

Frankenburb is an example where a nice design for apartments simply doesn’t work because of the surroundings. It’s supposed to be walkable urbanism yet there’s no place to walk to, and the apartments are next to a traffic-choked two-lanes-each way major street where sidewalks are an afterthought.

At other times the conversation is with someone who wants the suburbs transformed, often by introducing dense infill development and public transit. I say… be careful what you wish for. There are serious problems associated with suburban infill that can’t be overcome. You’ll likely end up with a bad Frankenburb.

I’m going to use this new apartment complex as an example. It’s a pretty high quality project that I believe was built with the best possible intentions and a keen understanding of what the market wants. But it’s just not possible to deliver good urbanism in this kind of suburban environment. The divided highway right outside manages to be both devoid of human activity and filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic. No matter how good the design of the apartments, the context is crappy.

Yes, there’s a sidewalk (at least along the portion of the road in front of the new buildings), but absolutely no one is ever going to try and escape the fences, landscaped berms, and retaining walls to walk next door to buy groceries or eat at the Chinese restaurant at the adjacent strip mall.

Granola Shotgun is by Johnny.

I’m an amateur architecture buff with a passionate interest in where and how we all live and occupy the landscape, from small rural towns to skyscrapers and everything in between. I travel often, conduct interviews with people of interest, and gather photos and video of places worth talking about. The good, the bad, and the ugly – it’s all fascinating to me.

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