Here are David Sucher’s ‘three rules’ to follow to build an ‘urban village’, from his book “City Comforts: How to Build an Urban Village”:

1) Build to the sidewalk
2) Make the building front “permeable” (i.e., no blank walls)
3) Prohibit parking lots in front of the building

“The Three Rules are the “one big thing” we must follow to create pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods. Even when rebuffed by large institutional forces such as the big-box store, the state highway department, or the nonprofit institution, the Three Rules focus the discussion on the few key variables that really count to create pedestrian-oriented streetscapes. […] Supporters of comfortable cities must have a set of easy-to-grasp mental tools and standards by which to judge new development. I believe that the Three Rules provide such a framework. They are simple to understand and go to the heart of the issue in creating walkable neighborhoods. […]

The Three Rules are a distillation of what actually works to make interesting places. They are a post hoc observation rather than an a priori conjecture. And they imply mixed-used neighborhoods of residential-above-retail.” (P. 56)

Now, if the University would keep these in mind when building their laboratories, the DDA keep them in mind when building parking garages, and developers keep them in mind when building new buildings ANYWHERE in the city of Ann Arbor (The suburbs can be urbanized!), then we’d be getting somewhere – and maybe the increase in retail space would help small local businesses from being forced out by Sprint Stores and Starbucks (or, forced to move out to cheaper strip malls).

Author: Rob