May 02 2013

Successful Storefronts in South Florida

Window shopping is a popular pastime – but have you ever noticed that some storefronts are simply better for on-foot shopping than others? While conventional retail has given higher priority to faster-moving automobile visibility, the traditional fundamentals of human-based storefront design are often overlooked. The success of local businesses, and the walkability well-designed storefronts promote, are what make Main Street a sustainable element in any town or city.

Charleston storefront

Encroachments. Especially in South Florida, all stores should at least have awnings to provide the passerby protection from both the sun and summer rain showers. Continuing the store into the sidewalk with arcades and colonnades provides shelter for pedestrians, extra living space for residents above, and sidewalk displays for stores. Galleries offer similar benefits while giving the residents prime outdoor space on the floor above.

Design District, Miami

Tall Glazing. Storefronts are best with generous height and glass – much taller and less solid wall than the upper floors. Tall ceilings allow for both cooler interiors (as heat rises) and sufficient space for a variety of store merchandise. On the exterior, clear glazing provides window displays, natural light, and differentiates the store from private residences. Transom windows can add more light deeper into the building.

Miracle Mile, Coral Gables storefront

Refined Details. A finely detailed, skinny storefront is crucial to attract passersby and foster walkability. Where contemporary aluminum or hollow metal often fail to provide human-scaled details, wood, metal, or stone are materials that can be carefully detailed and easily adapted to the neighborhood’s context. Band signage is a given for street traffic, but blade, window, and other small signs are ideal to encourage sidewalk traffic.

Lincoln Road signage

These storefront guidelines are not new, but often forgotten principles that have already stood the test of time. By following these design recommendations, mixed-use buildings can help make any Main Street into a great public space. Enhancing the public realm down to the finest detail is what makes great cities.

What unifying theme does your Main Street have?

Credits: Photographs by Jennifer Garcia. Data linked to sources.

Jennifer Garcia

Born and raised in the Midwest, Jennifer García now enjoys the energy and quality of life that Miami has to offer. Professionally, she uses traditional architecture and principles of the New Urbanism as a Town Planner at Dover, Kohl & Partners. Based on careful research, she designs each project within the context of the local architectural language, distinct culture, and regional settlement patterns. She proudly holds a Master of Architecture from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Traveling has taught her to immerse herself into each place’s history, culture, traditions, and how they contribute to the range of urbanism and local vernacular. She also enjoys blogging as a local transit advocate for Transit Miami. Her daily bicycle commutes reinforce her belief in nurturing a living urbanism with livable streets.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 at 9:02 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “Successful Storefronts in South Florida”

  1. Planning Steps into the Spotlight: Walkable City Book Review | The GRID | Global Site Plans Says:

    [...] In Walkable City, he begins with why walkability is important to residents, municipalities, and the local economy, with a balance of personal experiences, statistics, and stories. As he continues into the bulk of [...]

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