The ground-floor window into what’s ailing downtowns

Published September 4, 2023


The New York Times quoted Conrad Kickert in a story reporting that city centers may have to be reimagined to solve the problem of vacant storefronts. To address this issue, there's a need to repurpose ground-floor areas for various purposes beyond traditional retail. “There’s nothing worse than the butcher paper,” Kickert said. “And only one step above that are these sad stickers with happy smiling people on them.” These scenes have such an effect on us, Kickert said, because the vast majority of our interaction with architecture and buildings happens at the ground floor. Fundamentally, Kickert said, cities need to see the street level as less a place of transaction, and more one of interaction. And perhaps the people interacting aren’t buying anything at all.

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