capacious /kuh-pey-shuh s/ adjective
capable of holding much
Think about your downtown as a container, or better yet, as a huge main street retail space.
When you visit other communities and walk into their retail establishments, what are the qualities and attributes that make you linger and shop, tell your friends about the experience, and often return for repeat business? Chances are there are a number of factors, including the basic sensory elements, displays, aromas, music playing, colors, textures, variety, and maybe a free sample, but the one which may be most impactful is simply being a capacious space.
Of course, you (nor I) have ever actually articulated it this way, but we have certainly felt the ill effects of the absence of capacity. When a store seems so interesting, but lacks the open space to truly enjoy the experience, you notice and are impacted by the lack of room.
If we adjust our lenses to focus on the entire downtown experience in a similar fashion, what we can learn is that a little volume and expanse can actually intensify the experience for those who spend time in our community. With so much focus on adding interest to the streetscape, it can be very effective to simplify and open up the street environment to create a clean medicines online and simple forecourt for the shops, architecture, and humanity that exists in the downtown.
While visiting the metro DC area last weekend, I visited the Mosaic District, a new mixed use development near Vienna, VA. The entire experience was a pleasant one, replete with boutique retail, great dining, a butcher, and organic food market, and a great people watching. It offered everything that you look for in a downtown environment. Looking at the photos after the fact, it occurred to me that the comfort and enjoyment came in part because of the simplicity of the environment. The streetscape shown in the image is wide open and while it could hold many more elements, it nicely laid the foundation for what lay beyond.
There are likely spaces in our own communities that can be simplified and opened up to allow for a little more room to move, both inside and out. What are those spaces and what is your approach to building a different kind of capacity?