Urban Design Journal Shawn Proctor

Photo and Video taken March 25h

This is a celebration in downtown Lakeland, featuring many sidewalk attractions along Lake Mirror. The plaza that extends along the lake is usually empty, but when the city plans outdoor events it prefers to use the area, which is framed by a small park with a playground that is frequently used. The public space is well lit, but boxed in by buildings, parking lots, and small green areas, which gives it a bit of an enclave feel. Police are frequently parked in the lots, keeping the area safe for children and free to use by the public. Parking is usually quite difficult even when there aren't events because the lots are normally full. When there are events planned, the overflow typically makes the area difficult to traverse as a pedestrian or driver.

Photos taken April 11th

Of all the entries in this project, the one I take the most personal interest and frustration with is Norman Tunnel. The tunnel is signaled to be a bike route to and from Norman. However, it is nearly impossible to ride a bike through the barriers at the ends of the tunnel. I understand the need for the barriers to keep motor vehicles from passing under the bridge, as it is a potential location for someone trying to engage in infrastructure sabotage. However, it doesn't seem to justify the need to dismount your bike twice while using the tunnel. The tunnel becomes more inconvenient for both pedestrians and cyclists, as everyone must slow down when a cyclist has to maneuver their bicycle through the barriers. The municipal signage indicates that it is the proper avenue for a cyclist to use, when this is clearly not true.

photos taken March 5th

These photos were taken in and next to my neighborhood, and are community organized protests for a rezoning project that would allow a warehouse to be built on C. Fred Jones Highway, a recent construction nearby. The primary complaint is that the warehouse will require constant traffic of large trucks that the roads along the neighborhood are not well suited for. The roads are small, and the trucks make regular driving much less safe and make the road unsuitable for adults and children using bicycles since there are no sidewalks along the roads, so there is nowhere else for the bicycles to go. This entry isn't quite about the built environment as it is a planning debate that is ongoing, with significant civic involvement. As of my last inquiry, the protests have done next to nothing. Currently the area is zoned as agricultural and residential, so development would require both the approval of the new zone designation and the warehouse. There isn't suitable infrastructure for the warehouse, it's unlikely that the parent company of the warehouse will pay for the significant investment of the green site.

photos taken March 25th

In section features photos taken in downtown Auburndale, which is such a small town that there aren't any other prominent parts of the town other than these three blocks. Some of the storefronts have become dilapidated as people stop shopping there, but the free parking along the street allows easy access to a large playground, the stores, and the few large restaurants that stretch back along the roads perpendicular to this one. The public space is adjacent to the police station and the storefronts face the playground, which make the place feel watched in a positive way. The area is for the most part walkable but I would posit that this is due to the small selection of stores rather than any deliberate planning efforts.

photos taken March 25th

This place, Lakeside Village, is a small commercial shopping center in downtown Lakeland. It is by far the most appealing part of Lakeland, as it is the only walkable area. The layout of the area is such that there is extensive parking around the outside of the center and minimal street parking on the inside. One can walk from place to place without having to get in their car, much like a mall. The outdoor area offers significant shade and the absence of interior parking lots lessens the reflection of heat into the air by blacktop, keeping the sidewalks cooler. Major intersections use roundabouts rather than 4 ways, with constant preference to pedestrians rather than drivers. As is common in Lakeland, however, most drivers feel they take priority over those pedestrians, which defeats the purpose of area.

photos taken March 26th

These developments on Adam's Barn Road, are examples of suburbanization gone awry. Plenty of roads were built to handle the traffic of an expansive neighborhood with very high cost houses. Because of the absurdly high land value from what are essentially mansions as well as the housing market crash, the area has no inhabitants apart from the one house pictured above, and several neighborhood clubhouses that service no people. If any businesses or other land uses had been planned here, as opposed to the area being strictly residential, the place could have had the vitality needed to stay afloat during the crash. However the land can't be developed without a massive investment, and nobody is willing to build there because the site isn't conveniently located.

photos taken April 15th

Normally, highways can be quite bland after seeing the 7th sign for waffle house, but I found the walls shown above to be an intelligent planning choice. These walls differ from the boundaries usually used in residential neighborhoods. Those barriers typically serve no purpose, as they don't provide much safety or aesthetic quality, but rather appease residents of nearby neighborhoods with a false sense of security. The walls on the highway not only deal with the poor aesthetics of living next to a highway, they also dramatically diminish the problem of incessant noise pollution to the surrounding neighborhood.

photos taken April 16th

On my trip north to Gainesville, I see many agricultural fields. One such area has an extensive tree and shrub patch. I can appreciate the aesthetic appeal of the color provided to the landscape, but the retention pond and lake shown here serves as a receptacle to runoff and will eutrophy over time. This is simultaneously a positive and negative aspect to the development. The lake will worsen over time, becoming a nightmare to drain or deal with. If there is not a retention pond, the runoff will eventually find another body of water to disperse into, spreading the effect of the fertilizers over a broader area. In either case, it is cooncerning. The larger area has a significant amount of agricultural land, so I should think that these individual lots dealing with their runoff problems will keep the problem from compounding.

photos taken April 13

These two institutional locations are a lot built for the Innovation district and Stuzin Hall (The first four images for the Innovation district, and the last two are for Stuzin Hall). The lot is a designated green space and allows parking, however there are some issues I see with the lot. The area in the two pictures in the upper right corner are clearly supposed to be pedestrian areas, but they have no foliage to provide shade for any people, and there is nothing to interact with other than benches. Unsurprisingly, there were no pedestrians in the area. As fitting with the theme of bad planning, plenty of the cars were accommodated for, and even had trees for shade. I do see one positive aspect to the lot, as it includes art installations that give an atmosphere to the surrounding field. I appreciate the use of urban art to add character, but it doesn't mean much given that nobody will be interested in using the space for anything other than parking. In contrast, the square by Stuzin Hall provides many areas for seating, and an extensive tree canopy to give ample shade. For a college setting, the square cares about the comfort of the space in a way that the lot doesn't.

photos taken on April 14th

In the above photo grid, I walked down University Ave. at midtown, focusing primarily on signage. In this walk, I found good and bad examples of how companies are advertising themselves. Chipotle has its sign on the ground level, while the writing directly on the building advertised to the street. McDonald's surprisingly was an example of good signage, keeping the main logo directly on the side of the building rather than inserting an obtrusive and homogeneous logo into the cityscape. Likewise, Oozoo keeps its logo directly on the building so as not to pollute the street with advertisement. Examples I am less impressed with include Kangaroo, the Holiday Inn, Bistro, and Target Copy center. Target Copy is less of an offender, because such a small sign advertises 5 businesses. My reasoning for these signs is that these chain establishments give a cookie cutter view to the largely commercial street, preventing any sense of place. Gainesville and the UF campus are unique, so the advertisement of such mundane locations does not play to its strengths.

Created By
Shawn Proctor
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