Sometimes a change of scenery is exactly what is needed to create a sense of peace and relaxation. Who can relax in their office or at the same spots they sit everyday? There’s a reason that the world goes away on vacation occasionally – it’s not home or office.
One of the best parts of visiting different cities is seeing how they do planning and architecture. I’m sitting in a small little concrete park with a large grass circle set in the middle. 18 four person benches ring the perimeter and I’m the only one sitting here. This is clearly designed with an anticipation of casual users because while there are office workers wandering past for the buses they clearly aren’t working in the immediate buildings.
Looking at the sidewalks there is clearly an intention for walkers to feel comfortable. Wide areas with plenty of cut ins to allow people to get off the path when needed. There is no sense of the sidewalks being an afterthought and only included where there is room. Similarly, the side streets are designed to discourage heavy traffic by including regular stop signs and pedestrian cross walks. This all adds up to a city planner who had an idea of what she wanted to achieve in everything that went in.
The buildings themselves are nothing uniquely special but they are different. These aren’t the same buildings you would come across in other suburban locations (if you want to consider Arlington a suburb of DC and not just another DC community). And even if it is technically another community in DC proper it doesn’t match a big city vibe. It’s cool and different.
How many people notice these elements? Probably not many, but that’s also part of a good plan – invisibility. The less you notice that someone guided the design of your experience, the more pleasant the experience.