Grid / Street / Place

Essential Elements of Sustainable Urban Districts

By Nathan Cherry, AICP, Kurt Nagle, AICP

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Today's urban resident is seeking a more flexible, sustainable environment — representing a unique, diverse, vibrant, and responsible way of living — as an alternative to the typical development patterns of suburban and semi-urban sprawl. Can urban design help create this type of sustainable urbanism?

Grid / Street / Place presents a unique approach to understanding urban design through scientific, empirical research. The authors examined more than 100 successful projects throughout North America to identify differences and commonalities, and they discovered universal elements that characterize sustainable urban districts. By applying these essential elements, designers and developers can recreate and extend the experience of successful places to their communities.

Myriad plans, sections, diagrams, and charts illustrate how each district works — at an extremely detailed level. Concrete examples, as opposed to generalities, make Grid / Street / Place a must-read for anyone interested in the working strategies of urban design.

Winner of the Silver Medal for Architecture at the 2010 Independent Publishers Awards

Product Details

Page Count
Date Published
Aug. 9, 2009
APA Planners Press

Table of Contents


Classic Districts Key Map
District Views
Classic District Comparison Chart
Classic Districts Scale Comparison

Shopping/Working Districts
Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, MO
Highland Park Village, Dallas, TX
Mizner Park, Boca Raton, FL
Reston Town Center, Reston, VA
State Street, Santa Barbara, CA
Westwood Village, Los Angeles, CA
Worth Avenue, Palm Beach, FL

Transit Villages
Forest Hills Gardens, Queens, NY
Market Square, Lake Forest, IL
Shaker Square, Cleveland, OH

New Communities
Celebration, FL
Coral Gables, FL
Malaga Cove, Palos Verdes Estates, CA
Mariemont, OH
Summary Findings

Mixed Use Districts Key Map
District Views
Figure Ground
Circulation/Block Size
Land Use Mix
Commercial Footprint
Residential Mix
Open Space Network
Summary Findings

Public Spaces Scale Comparison
Squares: Essential Characteristics
Greens: Essential Characteristics
Parks: Essential Characteristics
Squares, Greens, and Parks Key Map
Spatial Enclosure
Public Space Scale Comparison

Southlake Town Square Park, Southlake, TX
Southlake Town Square Plaza, Southlake, TX
Victoria Gardens, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Jamison Square, Portland, OR
Legacy Town Center, Plano, TX
Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, OR
Pershing Square, Los Angeles, CA
Union Square, San Francisco, CA
Belmar Town Center, Lakewood, CO
Campus Martius, Detroit, MI
Post Office Square, Boston, MA
Santana Row, San Jose, CA
Maguire Gardens, Los Angeles, CA
Rockefeller Center, New York, NY
Times Square, New York, NY

Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, WA
Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco, CA
Addison Circle Park, Addison, TX
Union Square, New York, NY
Bryant Park, New York, NY

Bellevue Downtown Park, Bellevue, WA
Centennial Park, Atlanta, GA
Millennium Park, Chicago, IL
Public Garden, Boston, MA

Summary Findings

Shopping Streets: Configurations
Relationship to Arterial
Typical Section
Zoned Sidewalk
Other Options
Shopping Streets Key Map
Spatial Enclosure / Street Dimensions
Shopping Streets Scale Comparison
Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA
Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA
Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA
Venice Boardwalk, Venice, CA
Summary Findings

Places: Configurations
Passages: Configurations
Places Key Map
Spatial Enclosure / Places Dimension
Places Scale Comparison
Americana at Brand, Glendale, CA
Edgemar, Santa Monica, CA
The Grove, Los Angeles, CA
L.A. Live, Los Angeles, CA
One Colorado, Pasadena, CA
Via Rodeo, Beverly Hills, CA
Summary Findings





"A brilliant summary of urban design precedent. I don't know of any other source like it. Cherry stakes a claim, calls a spade a spade, and ventures forth with as comprehensive a listing as I've seen on what makes good urban places what they are. Here are the DNA sequences of successful urban places. This compendium helps us understand what Times Square, Seaside, and Mariemont have in common-that good human habitats are not entirely relative and open-ended but are based on something intrinsic and knowable: enclosure, human scale, proportion, and diversity. Cherry has brought us another step closer to making good urban places the default position of American city planning."

— Emily Talen, AICP
Professor, Arizona State University and author of
Urban Design Reclaimed

"Good urban design isn't an exact science, but its roots run deeper than planning hopes and developer hype. That's the value of Grid / Street / Place. These maps and diagrams let us explore the details of some the nation's most cherished spaces, from street trees to spatial forms-creating a resource that won't go out of date."

—John King
Urban Design writer,
San Francisco Chronicle

"A planner's solid reference book with useful urban design, land use, and development information about some of the most successful mixed use districts in the country. Grid / Street / Place moves from the general to the specific and includes a great selection of same-scale illustrations to guide the user. The section on shopping districts should be consulted by every planner seeking to understand the key ingredients of good urban design."

—S. Gail Goldberg, AICP
Director of Planning, City of Los Angeles