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Notes from SPUR's Evening with Jan Gehl, world-renowned urbanist

Thanks to Manish with Walk San Francisco for inviting me to attend SPUR’s Great Streets for Great Cities: An Evening with Jan Gehl at the Port of San Francisco offices at Pier 1 earlier this evening. Mr. Gehl is in town to do some work and to give San Francisco some advice on improving the shape, character, and experience of the public realm as he and his architecture team have done in London, New York City, Portland, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Cape Town, and Sydney.

The following are some notes I jotted down while listening to Mr. Gehl this evening that I thought were interesting:

  • People do not come together to live in cities in order to figure out how to increase the capacity for vehicular traffic through the downtown area – they come together to meet each other and to form human relationships.
  • Today, people treat cities as recreational destinations – a place to people watch, to interact with others, to enjoy arts, to exercise, and to do other enjoyable activities.
  • Public spaces are needed in our cities in order to provide meeting grounds for residents and visitors.
  • The more we know other members of our community via public spaces, the more confident and safe we feel – it is the open society concept.
  • Copenhagen’s major complaint in 2002 from its citizens was congestion – too many bicycles on the streets. The solution was to further eliminate space for motor vehicles in order to expand the bicycle-only lanes.
  • Walking and bicycling are the ultimate means of transit – cheap, quiet, non-polluting, and a healthy means for urban residents and visitors to get around town.
  • The better the quality of public spaces, the more pedestrians and the more public life in the area.
  • If people cannot park their cars, they will not use their motor vehicles as the means to get to their destination

With that final point in mind, I’m getting my Domain Chandon Brut champagne ready for Halloween, October 31st, the last operational day of U.S. Parking renting parking spots out to approximatley 400 cars that drive through Rincon Hill Monday through Friday in order to make way for the Temporary Transbay Transit Terminal. Salud!

2 Responses to Notes from SPUR's Evening with Jan Gehl, world-renowned urbanist

  1. Another surface lot bites the dust! I can’t wait. Looking forward to Tishman building Infinity’s cousin someday soon too, but that one is a little further off.

    Speaking of new condo buildings, have you heard anything about ORH’s second tower or 45 Lansing? They were digging at 45 Lansing, but it’s been quiet the past week or so.

  2. Hey Walker …

    I have not heard anything recently about ORH’s 2nd tower. I have heard that work has begun on 45 Lansing. It seems like work slows down a bit once the rainy season starts up (at least on the ground work).

    I believe the RFP for the Redevelopment Agency’s first plot of land for condo/mixed use development at Folsom and Fremont is out (or close to being released). I’m looking forward to the hole in the ground on Fremont between Harrison and Folsom getting filled in …. total eyesore right now with trash collecting on the fencing surrounding it.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

    =jamie