more sidewalk details

Joseph Clement. New York sidewalk details. Spacing, September 6, 2007Joseph Clement had a great piece in Spacing a couple of years ago on New York's sidewalks.  I found it when I was looking about for the glass block inserts.  He makes the point that when the sidewalk takes the place of a back alley for loading and services it makes for very wide pavements: clearly this proportional difference makes a better ground for pedestrian life.  The flâneur simply couldn't flan on niggardly strips of concrete pressed up against parked cars or downtown traffic. 

The photo above shows the care with which water is conducted away from seams between metal and paving.  Whenever the manhole cover was installed, or the glass lens panel laid, someone was thinking about longevity and the details needed to keep rain water from pooling, from splashing.  Again it is like the design of the cat's eyes where two glass marbles are set in a heavy rubber block which compresses if a car tire runs over it.  In front of the marbles is a small well to collect water, so when the rubber compresses the water rinses the front of the glass marbles keeping them clean.  There is tremendous attention to detail here that goes beyond the ease of installation and is more about imagining the post-installation working life of the product.  What a quaint idea.