Every city has places where the buildings present a blank face to the sidewalk. A dark, recessed arcade deadening the pedestrian environment or a soulless concrete wall fronting a windswept plaza.
Consultant Brent Toderian, formerly the planning director for the city of Vancouver, pointed out a cheap and easy solution to this problem. He calls them “blank wall retrofits,” storefronts that can be inserted over blank walls to add sidewalk-facing retail. He tweeted this great example in Calgary, Alberta:
This retrofit fits between the lobby and plaza of the brutalist Westin Calgary and the sidewalk.
“It’s a great technique for dealing with fundamentally flawed architecture that presents blank walls to streets and public places,” Toderian says. ”Unlike ‘make-up on a pig’ — e.g. murals — this fundamentally changes the street edge condition. The pig is no longer a pig. It potentially changes un-urban to urban.”
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