As a college student several years ago, I studied Local and Urban Affairs which has now been renamed as Community Planning/Studies. I remember sitting in the class watching what I thought even at that time was a VERY old (most likely a VHS) version of an educational documentary on the design of public spaces. It reviews public/group behavior and what makes a public space “desirable.” What I remembered most was the fact that we (the public) desired choices. In the video they talked about seating, and how the perception of control or ability to choose the location of a chair was important even if it was moved only a few inches for it’s original location-no more in or out of the sun.
The orator was William Whyte, who at the time was a Planning Commissioner for the City of New York. Later his work launched him to the forefront as a leading expert in the design of public spaces.
William passed away in January (2010), so in honor of his life’s work and as a continuation of my previous posts on public spaces-here is a link to his video, “The Social Life of Urban Spaces.” Don’t say I didn’t warn you about it being old 😉