This is what the "pedestal" section of the Empire State
Building looks like from street level. Notice that we don't
have a featureless stone wall. Instead, we have a string of
small-scale storefronts at the street level,
. You could walk right past
the building and have no idea that you are next to a
102-story skyscraper. Also note that we don't have any paved
plazas or Green Space. The building goes right up against
the sidewalk. A very tall building can be perfectly pleasant
from street level, if you pay attention to designing the
lower floors in the Traditional City human-friendly style.
The Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, is also a very tall building in
a "pedestal" style much like the Empire State Building.
Note that the Empire State Building is adjacent to what I
would call a Grand Boulevard, with about six lanes of
automobile traffic. We can have some Grand Boulevards, but
we want the street level to be mostly Really Narrow Streets,
or pedestrian streets without a central automobile roadway.
Paris, France. This street is about 15 feet wide, and
building height is about six stories -- the same as the
Empire State Building's pedestal section. Does this mean
you could have 102-story buildings and also a street level
that looks like this?
Why yes, I think it does!
Ginza district, Tokyo. These are more contemporary-styled
buildings, more like our existing high-rises today, but
again we have a nice pedestrian street of about twenty
feet wide, not six lanes of automobile traffic. The street
level is again small-scale shops and restaurants.
Here is another district of Tokyo, the Yushima area near
Ueno. The buildings are in more of a contemporary style
again, but the street is about twenty feet wide. Look how
there is no automobile traffic, and people walk down the
middle of the street.
Chengdu, China. This street width is quite a bit more than
twenty-five feet, more like 40 feet perhaps, but it is
nevertheless a pedestrian street. Nice contemporary
architecture. Can you have a street like this with
102-story pedestal buildings? Why not?
About twenty foot street width. Shinjuku district, Tokyo.
We saw this last week, but it's worth a repeat. Buenos
Aires, Argentina. This is again quite wide, nearly sixty
feet I'd say, but it is quite pleasant. Much more
human-friendly than six lanes of automobile traffic. I
certainly would go no wider than this. You can have a
pedestrian street wider than thirty feet, but if it is not
filled with people it begins to feel quite barren.
You usually find that, if there aren't enough people to
fill up the space, it begins to be filled with either some
sort of shrubbery or things like outdoor restaurants and
These have been some good examples of
what I mean by "pedestrian streets" (10% of surface
area) in the context of high-rise architecture. Use
pedestal/ziggurat buildings. ("Ziggurat" just means
multiple pedestals on top of each other.)
Now let's look at that 25% of the city that is devoted
to paved squares, parks and so forth.
Unfortunately, most high-rise architecture tends toward
a suburban design. The building is presented "in the
round," surrounded by either a paved plaza or some sort
of greenery, much like the suburban house in the middle
of the lawn, which itself is a facsimile of the country
farmhouse surrounded by fields. This format is almost
never seen in the Traditional City. Rather, you have a
square surrounded by buildings. Like this:
Buildings surrounding the plaza, not the plaza
surrounding the building. Simple, but very important.
Also, don't surround the plaza with an automobile
roadway! The plaza should be a pedestrian place,
bordered by buildings. The buildings can be very tall,
but with a pedestal construction and a street level in
the Traditional City style, of small-scale storefronts.
No blank stone walls.
Now, let's add some parks. We need some parks, because
those high-rise apartments are very small. Moms, kids,
the elderly, indeed all humans, want a pleasant outside
place to play and relax. Note that this is NOT GREEN
. It has to be a park. You can tell it's a
park because it has a name with "park" in it. Like
Central Park. Or the Marion Wellesley Memorial Park.
Parks can be very large, like New York's Central Park,
or they can be very small, even a 100x100 foot "pocket
This is a
Central Park, New York.
Central Park, New York.
This is not a park:
This is Green Space. Shanghai.
You get the idea, right?
This is also a park:
Here for the Traditional City/Heroic
"Pocket park." Greenacre Park, New York.
Parks can be very large, and they
can be small. You want both. The most important
thing is to have some sort of park available within
no more than a couple hundred meters from any
residence. The distance between the residence and
the park should be, if possible, a pedestrian
street. Then, you could go from your residence to
the park, an easy walk with a baby and a stroller,
without encountering any automobile traffic.
Just like paved squares, the parks should be
surrounded by buildings, not the other way around.
"Tower in a park": NO
Towers around a park: YES
Also, unlike Central Park in New York, the park
should not be surrounded by automobile roadways.
Just buildings opening right onto the park.
I think I will stop there for now. Maybe later, I'll
make up some specific plans and examples of what
could be done. But, applying the principles here,
you can also make up your own interpretations. I
encourage you to do so.