Bad Design: The Redevelopment Zone Hotel Tube

Covered walkway, Lansing, Michigan. This walkway connects the Radisson (Ottawa & Grand Streets) with a parking garage, and the convention center on the east bank of the Grand River.

Covered walkways appear to solve a problem of human movement in a busy, wintry, urban climate. They stretch from one building to the next, delivering humans unscathed from point A to point B. They seem to appear in places that undergo sudden redevelopment, almost as a precondition for a large hotel chain agreeing to build a branch in a city that is trying to build its convention industry. What else do they communicate about the surrounding environment? These “hotel tubes” can deliver a hotel guest to a convention without the guest ever once having to interact with the citizens of the town holding the convention. The hotel tube also tells would-be users that it is a place for hotel guests, a private space that bypasses the public space of the sidewalk. This hotel tube says more of the developer’s view of the social environment of Lansing than it says about the developer’s view of Lansing weather.¬†What fails is that the walkway traps its user and shuttles him quickly. There is no opportunity to embrace the outdoor environment – you never leave the air-conditioning.

Quick fix: tear the roof off. Compare this design to NYC’s High Line project, which exposes an elevated walkway to the elements, which makes the walkway all that more inviting.

NYC High Line. Formerly a train line, it now snakes one mile through the southwest end of Manhattan.

 

NYC High Line in Winter. Even during cold months, the high line provides a means of egress from stale buildings and busy, slush-filled streets.
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