Friday, September 12, 2014

designing for a [date movie]

like most architects, i have my own theory on urban planning, based on years and years of research. cities need to be designed as though they are a romantic comedy.

let me explain...

first the reason i got into architecture, meg ryan. i LOVED meg ryan as a teenager. the late 90's found me watching every, single, movie she was in. being that meg was america's sweetheart at the time, this found me viewing many of the decades best rom-com's.  one of the best examples of the genre was "sleepless in seattle" which found meg ryan falling in love with tom hanks who just so happened to be an architect.  this of course peaked my interest to pursue architecture, after all, any profession that helps win the heart of meg must be awesome.  not only did this cause me to fall in love with architecture, but i had also become very fond of the genre.

these two passions, architecture and romantic comedies led me to my theory on urban planning, which i call:

Parallels Between Successful Urban Centers and Romantic Comedies 
Designing for a Date Movie

i'll explain a bit more. in architecture school we studied kevin lynch's book "image of the city" in which he talks about the elements of a city that make it "memorable." he proposed a well planned city includes, paths, edges, districts, nodes and landmarks. however i think kevin forgot one factor, "hooking up." spring boarding off his ideas, i'd like to propose that cities, like good rom-com's, need public spaces, backdrops, walks, destinations and activities.  not only will these five elements make for a better city, they might just help you meet the love of your life.

public spaces

all great rom-com's start with the characters meeting, and a great public space is just the place for that to happen.  here we see scenes from "the notebook" " serendipity" and "the break-up" all showing where the main characters met. cities should have spaces able to hold large groups of people and activities like carnivals, sporting events, and retail centers.


rom-coms require a lot of talking and dialogue is much better with an amazing backdrop.

one example of an excellent backdrop is a skyline. skylines give you the sense of being removed from the chaos. a place to focus your attention. like two characters starting to get to know each other, cities need locations to be admired and reflected upon. below we see examples of l.a. in "500 days of summer" and new york in "annie hall" 

another possible backdrop is a single building or structure. cities should be filled with great architecture, both modern and historic.  below we see the disney concert hall in "celeste and jesse forever" buckingham fountain in "return to me" and the spanish steps in "roman holiday."


simply watching a movie of two people talking doesn't make for much romance, so often times rom-coms will have the characters WALK and talk. cities should provide great places for people to walk, in which there are two kinds.

park walks always provide a great setting. it allows the characters to be a little more personal and intimate while still being in the public realm. here we see park walks in "when harry met sally" "definitely maybe" and "pretty woman"

you can also have an urban walk. this allows for more interaction with the city and other people. here we see examples in "breakfast at tiffany's" "before sunrise" "kissing a fool" and "barefoot in the park." cities must have well defined and enjoyable urban walks to help move people within a cities core. these walks are often a prelude to the next element.


if you're trying to get to know someone you must discover their taste in music, movies, literature or fashion. urban areas should have a variety of retail shops to help aid this.  great examples are record stores as in "500 days of summer" and " before sunrise" or bookstores as seen in "annie hall" or "eternal sunshine of the spotless mind." apparently in these settings, guys should always stand on the left.

another great destination is a restaurant. after all the walking and talking, you're going to be hungry. also there's no better way to get to know someone then having to watch them eat. every urban core should have a wide variety of restaurants, bars and coffee shops.  examples of rom-com restaurants in "serendipity" "sabrina" and "when harry met sally."

not only should there be restaurants, but these restaurants should have patio's. rom-com's love patio's and cities should take note of that fact. patios allow the characters to have the intimacy of their own table while at the same time connecting to the city. below are some patio scenes from "failure to launch" "when harry met sally" and "midnight in paris."

one last destination several rom-coms have and all cities should, are museums.  not only do these provide for witty banter and insight between the characters, they enrich the culture of a city.


when you've had just about as much "talking" as you can handle, it's time for the charters to actually do something. cities and especially downtown's should offer a variety of activities for people to partake in.  activities like ice skating scene in "serendipity," yoga in "what women want" and dancing in "dirty dancing."

while doing research on various activities in rom-com's, one activity stood out....karaoke. i'm not sure if this is an anomaly or not, but let's just assume to be a great city it must include karaoke bars. here we see karaoke scenes from "ps i love you" "my best friends wedding" and "500 days of summer."

if you've followed my theory this far, thank you. as i've said early it's completely based on my complete and total love of the romantic comedy genre. although it might need some fine tuning, before i present it to any urban planning board, i would encourage you to take a look around your city and find the places and settings you think would make for a great rom-com scene. chances are those places are some of the best designed and well planned area's of the city.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

I dare to say this is your best and most relevant blog post ever. Do I smell a thesis topic???