Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Private City

Ridgeland has recently created a new masterplan as part of their campaign to RAMPup Ridgeland. The preliminary masterplan has two points of interest for us:

1) (page 7/16) AVOID NEGATIVE TRENDS.  
The neighboring town of Jackson has influenced Ridgeland's growth patterns in many ways, but one that should not be repeated is the development along the highway.  Service roads with too many turnoffs to street side parking and feeder roads can create bottlenecks and unsightly development.  Limiting curb cuts along the new I-55 service road system will be difficult but necessary in promoting development facing the roadway, not backing up to it.
Areas that are the reason that interstate architecture exists -  suburban conditions - are realizing the problems interstate architecture can create, but instead of returning to the density of the city, the goal has been set to create pockets of density with in the suburbs that turn away from their life force - the interstate.

2) (page 12/16)  MORPHING THE MALL.  
Indoor malls were once the standard in American shopping.  Due to a variety of influences, they seem to be losing favor with today's shoppers.  In order to protect and utilize the enormous investment of property, infrastructure and architecture, developers are initiating innovative ways to transform properties into more attractice veneus by blending mixed-use office, residential, entertainment, and outdoor retail.
A mix of offices, residential, entertainment, and outdoor shopping in a walkable area that turns in to itself . . . isn't that just the city?  The development trend seems to have recognized many the important aspects of the city, but without calling it what it is.  In the final irony, the suburbs, which have become a symbol of getting away from the urban, are now trying to recreate that from which they ran.  The immediate difference is that these "cities" are private developments on private land with largely privately controlled infrastructure.  This may leave us one day asking what happened to democracy in the city?

The shear number of core areas that this masterplan identifies that should be built up into walkable, new urbanist type communities leaves one wondering how many people it would really take to create this many small towns within Ridgeland.  Why are so many different small communities necessary?  I imagine this is the mixing of suburban and urban ideologies - of wanting the spread out and get close together at the same time.


Two Dogs said...

To me their idea sounds exactly opposite of city, it sounds like small town America. It sounds like the pre-Wal-Mart concept of Mississippi town square architecture or developments.

Just saying.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a town made up of several small communities, where each community is self-sufficient, yet they are all governed under one form of leadership, in this case the mayor. This will encourage those that live there to remain there, while only venturing out when there is something needed that their "community" can not offer. Their day-to-day activities/chores will be supported by the community, but they will have to venture outside for things of importance/significance, ie high priority medical attention, job position, etc.

Stronger bonds will occur within the communities themselves, but the town will suffer as a whole, as each community will hold itself higher than the others, instead of holding the town's pride first. Some will prosper, as all establishments of wealth do, but even though all will be financially stable, the poorest of the rich will still be considered poor.