Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jane Jacobs Atlantic Yards Report Card #3: Avoidance of Monotony? NO

This is evaluation item #3 (of 47) of the Jane Jacobs Atlantic Yards Report Card

Avoidance of Monotony? NO

Jane Jacobs objected to large swaths monotonous real estate. Atlantic Yards, which is being built by the same developer, with the same architect at about the same time, while tearing down buildings that are different, involves many examples of monotony.

JJ Cites: [Reducing the city and countryside alike to monotonous, unnourishing gruel. .p.7 Almost nobody travels willingly from sameness to sameness and repetition to repetition, even if the physical effort required is trivial. p. 129 Differences, not duplication, make for cross-use and hence for a person’s identification with an area greater than his immediate street network. Monotony is the enemy of cross-use and hence of functional unity. P. 130 Nor can districts be duplicates of one another; they differ immensely, and should. . . An interesting district has a character of its own and subspecialities of its own. It draws users from outside (it has little truly urban economic variety unless it does), and its own people go forth. . . . This movement has not weakened the district; coincident with it, the district has grown stronger. P. 133 If the sameness of use is shown candidly for what it is- - sameness- - it looks monotonous. Superficially, this might be thought of as a sort of order, however dull. But esthetically, it unfortunately also carries with it a deep disorder: the disorder if conveying no direction. In places stamped with the monotony of repetition of sameness you move, but in moving you seem to have gotten nowhere. North is the same as south or east as west. Sometimes north, south, east and west are all alike as they are when you stand within the grounds of a large project. It takes differences- - - many differences- - - cropping up in different directions to keep us oriented. Scenes of thoroughgoing sameness lack these natural announcements of direction and movement, or are scantly furnished with them, and so are deeply confusing, This is a kind of chaos. P. 224. Homogeneity of uses poses an unavoidable esthetic dilemma: Shall the homogeneity look as homogeneous as it is, and be frankly monotonous? Or shall it try not to look as homogeneous as it is and go for eye-catching, but meaningless and chaotic differences? P. 226 In architecture as in literature and the drama, it is the richness of human variation that gives vitality and color to the human setting. . Considering the hazard of monotony . . . the most serious fault in our zoning laws lies in the facts they permit an entire area to be devoted to a single use. P.229]

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