Monday, January 8, 2007

Newton North Ceremonial Entrance

The debate over the proposed driveway to the proposed ceremonial entrance to the proposed Newton North raises an interesting question. Should the ceremonial entrance:

  • Reflect how most people are expected to get to the building?
  • Reward people who use encouraged mode of transportation?
  • Be purely a function of siting?
Take the library as an example.

It's not the first case. The ceremonial entrance faces Homer Street, but most people drive to the library, park in the lot, and enter the building through the west, non-ceremonial entrance.

It's not the second case. It's not clear that, for most people, there is a viable alternative to driving to the library; there is not a meaningful alternative to encourage.

The library, then, would be an example of the third case. Its ceremonial entrance reflects its siting at the corner of Walnut and Homer. The building shows a proud front to southbound vehicle traffic on Walnut.

I would have built the library to treat people coming by car a little nicer. (Sometimes, you just have to accept reality.) And, I would have engaged City Hall more directly. Imagine a grand entrance at the northwest corner of the building, suggesting a direct connection between the two buildings.

With the Newton North designs, it throws a big red flag that the ceremonial entrance is so far from the Newtonville commercial district and that parking lots are so far from the ceremonial entrance. It means that there are going to be a lot of people entering through a back door.

It seems to me that a greater sense of community would be forged by a cermonial entrance that is also the most practical entrance. Come to think of it, calling it a ceremonial entrance is another red flag.

Updated: Why isn't the library within reasonable walking distance of one of the villages?

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