How to Design a Post-pandemic City
A guidebook of 10 concepts that reimagine urban living
The coronavirus recovery in America’s cities is going to require more than just al fresco dining. As the current resurgence of Covid-19 in several states shows, there’s a broad need to reimagine public space and devise socially distanced ways to navigate the urban landscape over a longer term. In the pandemic’s early days, scores of cities closed streets to vehicle traffic to make room for pedestrians and allow restaurants to claim more sidewalk space. Now that the perils of reopening indoor activities are becoming tragically clear, outdoor space will need to work even harder — hosting stores, performances, and all manner of public services.
A new effort focused on Baltimore is offering a set of solutions to public space challenges during the pandemic. The “Design for Distancing Ideas Guidebook” — a free document from the city of Baltimore, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Baltimore Development Corporation, and the city’s nonprofit Neighborhood Design Center — collects 10 plans for creating temporary, low-cost spaces that permit physically distant social interaction in urban environments such as streets, alleys, vacant land and parking lots. The selected concepts were drawn from a pool of 162 submissions from architecture and design firms; the plans were conceived around the needs of Baltimore’s neighborhoods, but could be adapted to cities anywhere.
“This was a great opportunity to rethink how we use public spaces, how we use streets,” said Keshia Pollack Porter, a professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins who consulted on the project. “Can we have spaces that are actually great opportunities for people to gather and gather safely?”
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