All too often I end up facing the same quandry – how do I expand the discussion of issues we face downtown without getting too wonkish for readers? Over this past year we’ve delved into an exploration of urban planning from the viewpoint of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, the ideas of William Whyte including the “blank wall,” and finished with a parade of guest blogs about downtown from some of the brightest minds of this city.
We live in a society where we like issues to be simple: brand x and brand y. Good guy and bad guy. Black and white. Coke and Pepsi. One, maybe two plot lines that can be wrapped up in 60 minutes, minus commercials. Or better yet, let’s limit the whole damn conversation to 140 characters.
I’m suggesting – no – I’m challenging and daring you to declare once and for all that we’re ready to go more in-depth on a topic. And this topic demands some serious discussion – SandRidge Energy’s proposal to tear down four downtown buildings. Until now most people (and maybe me included) have looked at this as a question of “is the building historic?” But there’s an urban planning and design question at stake here as well.
So let’s start with the introduction of a new word to our vocabulary – one that we’ve not heard said much in OKC but is certainly a topic of importance elsewhere: “Streetwall.” We start by going to Chicago.