Fake Windows = Fake Urbanism

Urban designer Susan Braun points the finger at pharmacies and other suburban retailers who intentionally break the connection with the street by blocking up their windows.
March 3, 2009, 11am PST | Tim Halbur
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"As you walk by these stores, here's the view: The backside of display shelves, blank walls built into the windows, blinds pulled all the way down, film over the windows, walls built into the windows with generic advertising on them, a view into a poorly organized storeroom, a view into the chaos of the backside of sinks and counters in the photo area, a wall with a shelf of gift bags stuffed with tissue paper (how symbolic - empty gift bags), a wall with a shelf of teddy bears with their backs to the street, and the crowning jewel is a display of once lovely prints, now an eerie green as the red ink fades, of the lost historic urban streetscape. I take this last one as the ultimate insult to the Grand Avenue community - a reminder of what has been deleted from their lives.

In these examples, the window has been exploited in its crudest and emptiest form - as an image, not as an experience. It is window as wall, not window as view. Windows are about views into and out of buildings. Windows are about natural light; windows can even still be about air. Windows should not be visual barriers that reinforce a feeling of separation. Covering and blocking windows robs us of a vital urban experience and diminishes the safety of the public realm."

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Published on Monday, March 2, 2009 in MPP Downtown Journal
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