Where’s the Podium?

Hartford-plinth

Seth and I visited Hartford, CT, last week and stumbled upon this poster child of urban renewal.  Given all of our current urban design work where we advocate (daily) for the merits of a consistent street wall and building podium, this extreme counter-example is perversely fascinating.  Its development logic is clear: If the lower stories of an office building do not collect sufficient rent, and ground floor retail is un-leasable, why build any?  Start your building at the fifth floor!  Of course the danger of this thinking is that it is likely to result in an urban design arms race of sorts, where retail, then sidewalks will be located on the fifth floor, eventually creating a kind of ground-floor nether world of cars, garbage and electrical transformers.

-Matthew

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