Sunday, November 15, 2009


1. Whyte's main point is that much of what makes an urban street popular and successful in terms of patrons and customers is its accidental designs - trash cans, doorways, and distractions from neighboring shops and businesses.
Whyte also uses Lexington Avenue as a prime example to illustrate the point that a little bit of nonconformity can work well for encouraging commerce in an urban area. To illustrate this point, Whyte uses the example of the trash can. The huge, heavy, concrete trash cans did not do a superb job at making it easy to get rid of trash due to the small opening at the top. However, they were able to function as tables for food and rearranging packages or even as impromptu conference tables. Another example Whyte uses is the indented ledges of the Chase bank. These ledges doubled as seating areas until the bank equipped them with spikes, and even then were vendors able to lean wares and signs against them.

2. As far as levels of design go, Whyte's ideas have much in common with Norman's ideas of behavioral design and visceral design. Whyte dealt the most with the behavioral aspect of the design, intentional or accidental, of urban areas. For example, the many different types of window shopping techniques were intentional. They were designed to draw people in with human behavior in mind.
At first, the idea of distractions provided by other shops may not appeal to a neighboring storeowner, but on Lexington Avenue, just the opposite proves true. From music played at obnoxiously high levels, to extreme light displays, to signs and products placed so far out on the sidewalk as to obstruct traffic, these stoppages slow down potential customers, giving them more time to notice the next store. Both concepts of intentional and accidental design manipulate the behavioral aspect of human nature.
As far as the visceral level of design goes, Whyte emphasizes that an urban area doesn't have to be viscerally appealing to be beautiful. The somewhat dirty, cramped, and sensory overloaded aspects of Lexington Avenue are what gives the street its unique charm.

3. -What stoppages are there? Are there enough distractions to slow down pedestrians and attract businesses?
-Are the doorways large enough and inviting enough? Do they provide not only entrances to stores and businesses but also places to hold discussions and assign meeting places?
-Are the windows effective? Will they pique the interest of passersby?
-Are there places for pedestrians to sit?

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