Or Market Street: “Don’t let your Main Street — or any street — turn in to a cartoon version of Main Street.”

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At least Nicolae wasn’t hypocritical about it.

The following link probably is more applicable to Jeffersonville’s emerging downtown building projects, but it’s still worthy of note, for this phrase alone: “cartoon version.”

As in, a cartoon version of downtown revitalization.

I’m waiting for a scholar somewhere to write the book about the way that a whole generation of Americans, maybe two, has mistaken Disney World for the Real World, with generic cookie-cutter plastic facades substituted for genuine essences — and another whole generation of engineers and design “experts” making out like bandits.

When you look at HWC’s plan for Market Street beautification, and witness the delighted reaction of City Hall functionaries to the merest mention of IKEA furniture, it’s plain that none of it has to do with what makes New Albany unique and distinctive. It’s almost like a disease, not a design.

Even the historic preservationists fall victim to this. They’ll sacrifice their own credibility and lots of tax revenues to “save” the Reisz Building, then acquiesce without a murmur as HWC foists another faux street redesign on us, one that resembles what you’d expect to see at … that’s right, Disney World. 

The Kool-Aid is very strong, and evidently they’re very weak. 

From McMansion to McMain Street, by Michael Huston (CNU)

Like the McMansion, the McMain Street attempts to mimic the complex roof massing of many buildings in a single building. Here are ideas on better ways to preserve or create Main Street character.

So, don’t let your Main Street—or any street—turn in to a cartoon version of Main Street! Planners and designers that want to preserve—or create—the character of the traditional Main Street should be more attentive as to the way this goal is achieved. Consider these tips:

  • Whenever possible, develop with smaller lot increments (consider de-coupling parking to assist in this).
  • If small increments are not possible, show restraint in the number of breaks and the way they are articulated (more up and down, and less in and out).
  • Let hotels, banks, and other larger building types be expressed as single buildings with thoughtfully composed facades that more honestly reflect the true nature of the building type.
  • Keep in mind that facade designs that are viewed only in 2-dimensional elevation form can be deceptively complex when viewed in 3-dimensions from the angle of the street and sidewalk.
  • Postsript: A search for the term “McMain Street” turned up a similar definition in the Urban Dictionary as follows: “A new centrally planned shopping mall designed to look like a small town center but filled with big corporate chains.” In this article, the term is applied to any building that attempts to mimic multiple buildings within the structure of a single building.

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