Design: Drawing a Blank Downtown

Buildings that wall themselves in are deadening the life of cities

Blank Wall is on its way to becoming the dominant feature of many United States downtowns," complains William H. Whyte, one of America's most astute observers of the urban scene. Without windows or adornment to relieve their monotony, the walls are built of concrete, brick, granite, metal veneer, opaque glass and mirrors. They cover up department stores and shopping malls, offices and civic buildings, convention centers and hotels. Designed out of fear—fear of the untidy hustle and bustle of city streets and "undesirables"—the...

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