Landscape architecture professor develops online training in streetscape design

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Paul Daniel Marriott, associate professor of landscape architecture in the Penn State Stuckeman School, has partnered with the National Preservation Institute (NPI) to develop an online training course on designing streetscapes. The course provides strategies for the appropriate preservation of streets and streetscapes in historic districts nationwide and is open to landscape architects, design professionals and advocates involved with historic preservation review boards or those interested in heritage policy.

The virtual course helps people understand “that many downtown streets are historic resources and there’s a history of a road’s design in terms of its alignment, the materials, the pavement, the street trees and the lighting,” explained Marriott. “Just like any other resource, there is a material culture that can be studied.”

The NPI training addresses the design and management of streetscapes in historic districts while also introducing strategies to maintain authenticity and preserve the culture of the area.

“It helps people understand why the street matters and it gives them the tools and resources with which they can learn how to better study their street or their road,” Marriott said. “It also helps them understand, based on how things change over time, how one can make accommodations for modern needs based on this history.”

In an important nationwide training such as this, Marriott said providing examples from all over the country is crucial. He has worked in more than 30 states and provides a variety of examples and images to help course participants find an example that is relevant to the history and culture of their community.

At the end of the day, I want people to be able to walk down their main street and feel really good about the fact that it doesn’t look like every other main street in the country.” — Paul Daniel Marriott

Marriott believes that showing multiple examples, including bad examples of streetscape design, can expand course participants’ knowledge and perspective on a range of design solutions. The method also helps demonstrate that careful research often justifies less expensive investments that are more appropriate for the streetscape in their community.

“I try to remind people that sometimes … the cheaper solution is actually the better solution,” he said.

Marriott emphasizes the idea that even if communities have smaller budgets, they can still make streetscape improvements that are authentic based on their history.

The training provides people with a new perspective, the best resources to use and a starting point when figuring out the best way to recognize the history of their streetscape.

“I want people to walk away from the training with the sense that they have many of the answers they need right in their own towns,” Marriott said.

Marriott’s goal is for the NPI training to show people that their historic streetscape is an authentic part of their history; that respecting the unique history of their community can offer design solutions that distinguish their downtown from others. The answers for preservation lie in the town itself.

“At the end of the day, I want people to be able to walk down their main street and feel really good about the fact that it doesn’t look like every other main street in the country,” he said.

The online training, which is $100, can be accessed via the NPI training website.

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