Buffalo Architect Charles Gordon has been talking about this for years. Paris is rethinking the way its intersections and traffic circles will work in the future – see article in FastCoexist.com. Instead of dedicating the intersections to cars, planners are looking to create destinations for people. A couple of years ago, I attempted a place making initiative at Niagara Square called Cirque de Square, to try to get people to rethink the ways that our public squares are used.
Unfortunately, weather was a deterrent – it rained on two Saturdays all summer… the same two days that we tried out the exercise. Despite Mother Nature putting a damper on the initiative, we still got a chance to see what it would be like to transform one of our downtown public epicenters into a playground for people.
Gordon’s idea goes much further than simply putting out tables and chairs, setting up bands and performers, and creating a public piazza. His thought is to re-examine, the square, the circle, the perimeter, and all parts in-between… just as they are setting out to do in Paris.
Now take a look at the lead image (part of the Paris plan), and tell me it doesn’t resemble Lafayette Square. Paris is finally realizing the full potential of its core public attributes. Cities must be welcoming, and they must be walkable. Public squares should not be be viewed as islands. Rather they should be weaved into the urban fabric that surrounds them. Buffalo has incredible downtown public circles and park spaces that are not currently utilized in the optimal manner. Hopefully, one day that will change and we will no longer take these public spaces for granted.
Lead image from : © Sophie Robichon – Mairie de Paris