Monday, April 20, 2009


Assistant Professor
Department of Architecture and Planning
NED University of Engineering and Technology



In order to understand the theme of current lecture i.e. location of public and semi-public buildings, civic centers, commercial centers, local shopping centers and public schools; it is imperative to identify the meaning and interpretation of location, location theory, building, building types, and public property as mentioned above. Whereas; it is also important to clearly spell out, the activity generated via these building types. Afterwards; it will be eminent that where these building types and their activities shall be located within an urban context. In the following all these issues are discussed in details.

Location in geography is one of the five geographic themes and a specific position or point in physical space that be exact and relative. In geography, location is a position or point in physical space that something occupies on Earths' surface. An absolute location is the exact spot where something is on the earth. An example would be the longitude and latitude of a place. An absolute location is the coordinates on a grid that leads to an exact spot somewhere on earth. Absolute location can also be the exact spot where something is within a city, such as saying that the Department of Architecture and Planning NED University is at intersection of Burns road and Kachehry road. Relative location is where something is in relation to something else. For example: By the NIPA, two miles from NED University main campus.

In town planning location theory is quite significant theme especially in the context of urban economics. The reason for its significance is quite evident when a town planner place or decide about a particular building type at some particular location in an urban context. Because; location theory is concerned with the geographic location of an economic activity; it has become an integral part of economic geography, regional science, and spatial economics. Location theory addresses the questions of what economic activities are located where and why. Location theory rests — like microeconomic theory generally — on the assumption that agents act in their own self interest. Thus firms choose locations that maximize their profits and individuals choose locations that maximize their utility.

A public space refers to an area or place that is open and accessible to all citizens, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age or socio-economic level. The example of public space is the place for commons (or Ghareeb Awam). For example, no fees or paid tickets are required for entry, nor are the entrants discriminated based on background. Non-government-owned private sector malls are examples of 'private space' with the appearance of being 'public space' because; poor people avoid or hesitate in entering into such malls. The term 'Public Space' is also often misconstrued to mean other things such as 'gathering place' which is an element of the larger concept. Most streets, including the pavement are considered public space, as are town squares or parks. Government buildings, such as public libraries and many other similar buildings are also public space. However, not all state-owned buildings fall under such a definition. Some parks, malls, waiting rooms, etc, are closed at night. As this does not exclude any specific group, it is generally not considered a restriction on public use.

Entry to public parks can be restricted based upon a user's residence. In the United States, one's presence in a public space may give him or her certain rights not otherwise vested. In a public space, known as a public forum, the government cannot usually limit one's speech beyond what is reasonable (that is, screaming epithets at passers-by can be stopped; proselytizing one's religion probably cannot). In a private space—that is, non-public—forum, the government can control one's speech to a much greater degree; for instance, protesting one's objection to medicare reform will not be tolerated in the Pentagon. This is not to say that the government can control what you say in your own home or to others; it can only control government property in this way. In some cases, privately-owned property can be considered a public forum. England, too, has a tradition of public spaces permitting public speech, at Speakers' Corner, for example. In general, there is no expectation of privacy in a public space. Eating and drinking in an outside public place during Ramadan in an Islamic country is sometimes not appreciated.

Public spaces are attractive for budget tourists and homeless people, especially those that are relatively comfortable, e.g. a shopping center that provides shelter and, in a cold climate, is heated (or cooled in a hot climate). Whilst it is generally considered that everyone has a right to access and use public space, as opposed to private space which may have restrictions, there has been some academic interest in how public spaces are managed to exclude certain groups - specifically homeless people and young people. Measures are taken to make the public space less attractive to them, including the removal or design of benches to restrict their use for sleeping and resting, restricting access to certain times, locking indoor/enclosed areas. Police forces are sometimes involved in moving 'unwanted' members of the public from public spaces. In fact, by not being provided suitable access, disabled people are implicitly excluded from some spaces. Further, beginning roughly in the 1960s, the wholesale privatization of public space (especially in urban centers) has become a fact of western society, and has faced criticism from citizen groups such as the Open Spaces Society. Private-public partnerships have taken significant control of public parks and playgrounds through conservancy groups set up to manage what is considered unmanageable by public agencies.

Corporate sponsorship of public leisure areas is ubiquitous, giving open space to the public in exchange for higher air rights. This facilitates the construction of taller buildings with private parks; accessible only to those deemed fit. In one of the newer incarnations of the private-public partnership, the business improvement district (BID), private organizations are allowed to tax local businesses and retail establishments so that they might provide special private services such as policing and increased surveillance, trash removal, or street renovation, all of which once fell under the control of public funds and thus public interests. Clearly these services are necessary; the methods by which they are provided can be debated but not their ultimate utility. Additionally, public areas facilitate public interaction, and their existence can scarcely be questioned in democratic states; we may debate how they are provided, but to question their utility would seem to question our basic rights. Privatization of public amenities should not go unnoticed, whether in this form or the tacit co-opting of sights and sounds known as advertising.

A broader meaning of public space or place includes also places where everybody can come if they pay, like a café, train, movie theater or brothel. A shop is an example of what is intermediate between the two meanings: everybody can enter and look around without obligation to buy, but activities unrelated to the purpose of the shop are not unlimitedly permitted. The halls and streets (including skyways) in a shopping center may be declared a public place and may be open when the shops are closed. Similarly for halls, railway platforms and waiting rooms of public transport; sometimes a travelling ticket is required. A public library is also more or less a public place. A rest stop or truck stop is a public space. For these semi-public spaces stricter rules may apply than outside, e.g. regarding dress code, trading, begging, advertising, propaganda, riding rollerskates, skateboards, a Segway, etc. Typical differences between a public space and a private space are illustrated by comparing sitting on a public bench and sitting on a seat in a sidewalk cafe: In the first case, usage costs nothing, in the second it requires a purchase to be made. In the first case, there is no time limitation (though loitering laws might apply), while in the second, money has to be spent at certain intervals. In the first case, one is allowed to consume brought-along food and drink (alcohol consumption laws may restrict this), in the second case, this is usually prohibited. In the first case, only general laws apply in terms of dress (such as prohibition of public nudity) and other aspects of public decency, in the second, stricter rules (such as a prohibition of being shirtless) may apply.

Thus the location of public and semi public buildings in the city can be at any suitable place where accessibility of all citizens and availability of public and private transport can be ensured.

A civic center or civic centre is a prominent land area within a community that is constructed to be its focal point or center. It usually contains one or more dominant public buildings, which may also include a government building. Recently, the term "civic center" has been used in reference to an entire central business district of a community or a major shopping center in the middle of a community. In this type of civic center, special attention is paid to the way public structures are grouped and landscaped. In some American cities, a multi-purpose arena is named "Civic Center", for example Columbus Civic Center. Such "Civic Centers" combine venues for sporting events, theaters, concerts and similar events. In most cases civic centers in the UK are a focus for local government offices and public service buildings.

With reforms of local government in London in 1965 and across England in anticipation of the implementation of the Redcliffe-Maud Report in 1974, a number of local authorities commissioned new civic centers sometimes funded by disposing of their 19th Century Town Hall buildings. In case of Karachi the civic center is a building located in the center of the city and contains activities such as municipal institutions, development authority, utility institutions, banks, airline offices, city district government offices to serve the people of Karachi.

Thus civic centers must be centrally located in city where they are accessible from all parts of the city at equidistance if possible.

Commercial Centers (also called Downtowns, Central Business Districts, and Urban Villages) contain a concentration of business, civic and cultural activities, creating conditions that facilitate interaction and exchange. This increases overall Accessibility. Vibrant commercial centers have the following attributes:

• DENSITY AND CLUSTERING: Commercial centers should be medium to high density; with multi-story buildings. Densities of 50 employees or more per gross acre are desirable. As much as possible the ground floor of buildings should have activities and services that involve frequent public interaction (such as retail, professional services, civic offices, etc.), with office or residential activities above, which creates an attractive street environment while accommodating dense employment.

• DIVERSITY: Centers contain a diverse mix of office and retail space, banks and law offices, public institutions (such as city hall, courthouses, and other government offices), entertainment and arts activities, and other suitable industries. Increasingly, commercial centers also have residential buildings, either within or nearby.

• LOCAL AND REGIONAL IMPORTANCE: Commercial Centers should contain a significant portion of total regional employment and business activity.

• WALKABILITY: Most Commercial Centers are less than 250 acres in size so all destinations are within about 10-minute walk, with good sidewalks and pathways, pedestrian shortcuts, attractive Streetscapes, pedestrian scale and orientation, relatively narrow streets (4 lanes or less is desirable), relatively slow vehicle traffic (30 miles-per-hour or less is desirable), Universal Design, and a high degree of pedestrian Security. Some have Pedways, which are indoor walking networks that connect buildings and transportation terminals.

• TRANSPORTATION DIVERSITY: The area should be accessible by walking, cycling, taxi, automobile, and public transit.

• PARKING MANAGEMENT: In order to avoid the need to devote a large portion of land to parking, Commercial Centers require that parking be managed for efficiency (Manfille and Shoup, 2004) It is often appropriate to use structured or underground parking, and to limit the total amount of parking in a commercial center.

• TRANSIT ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT: This refers to districts designed with features that facilitate transit accessibility, with maximum developing within convenient walking distance of Attractive Transit Stations.

There are many types of Commercial Centers, ranging from Downtowns (also called Central Business Districts or CBDs), which are the primary Commercial Center serving a region, to Secondary Business Districts and Village Centers. A large Central Business District can contain thousands of businesses with tens of thousands of employees, while a local village center may be considered successful if it has a dozen businesses with two or three hundred employees. Some have a particular base or specialty, such as a cluster of medical facilities, a wholesale district, a tourist district, or an adjacent university campus, but such centers include a diverse range of businesses providing support services.

Business activities tend to be more efficient in a Commercial Center that contains related industries, because clustering allows convenient interaction between staff, and convenient access to the services they use. A typical business district contains offices for finance, insurance, real estate, law and research companies, government agencies, plus various support services such as stationary retailers, janitorial services and computer supplies. This allows more specialization, for example, lawyers that specialize in a particular subject, translators who support trade and cultural activities with a particular region, and suppliers of specialty equipment for a particular industry. Commercial Centers also contain conference centers, hotels and other types of meeting facilities. As a result, people working in such areas can meet with several colleagues each day (a banker, a lawyer, a translator) with minimal time spent traveling. This high degree of accessibility that occurs when related industries are clustered together tends to increase economic productivity, called Economies of Agglomeration.

Strong Commercial Centers are an important component of Smart Growth and New Urbanism. Many central business districts and nearby neighborhoods are experiencing new residential development in the form of high- and medium-density condominiums and apartments, townhouses, and small-lot single-family homes. Urban living is particularly popular among young adults and retirees. Market surveys indicate that about a third of home buyers would prefer to live in mixed-use new urbanist community if available (Hirschhorn, 2001). Some central business districts are still losing business and population, but there are numerous indications that, with proper support, downtowns can be successful and provide numerous economic, social and environmental benefits.

Transportation planning decisions have significant impacts on the success of Commercial Centers. Walking, Public Transit and Parking Management are particularly important, and Commute Trip Reduction programs tend to be particularly effective. Public Bike Systems increase the convenience of cycling in downtown areas.

People who work, shop and live in a Commercial Center can satisfy many of their daily needs without using an automobile. For example, employees who work in the area will find a diverse range of cafes and restaurants for refreshments and meals, shops that sell daily items (such as groceries, books and stationary goods) and more specialized items (such as gifts, clothing and hardware). Similarly, a vibrant Commercial Center contains medical and dental services, gyms for exercise, daycare facilities, and other types of services. It is therefore beneficial to locate affordable housing near Commercial Districts, so non-drivers have convenient access to such services, called Location Efficient Development.

Commercial Centers are an alternative to more Automobile Dependent commercial land use patterns, such as suburban strips (activities are scattered along major arterials, which requires a car trip between each destination), and private malls or campuses (which have a high degree of internal walkability, but are generally surrounded by large parking facilities, are widely dispersed, and contain a limited range of activities, and so tend to require numerous automobile trips).

Residents living in or near Commercial Centers tend to own fewer cars than residents of more dispersed, isolated areas (Land Use Impacts on Transportation). People who work in major centers tend to commute by transit significantly more than those who work in more dispersed locations, and they tend to drive less for errands (Ewing, Pendall and Chen, 2002). While; about 90% of the suburban employees drive to work, but this declines to about 50% among downtown employees (even less in cities with major transit systems).

Franks and Pivo (1995) found that automobile commuting declines significantly when workplace densities reach 50 75 employees per gross acre, since this tends to support transit and ridesharing commutes, and improved access to local services, such as nearby coffee shops and stores. Because activities and people are concentrated, road and parking Congestion tend to be relatively intense in major Commercial Centers, but because people use alternative modes and travel shorter distances, particularly for businesses meetings, per capita traffic congestion costs tends to be lower. Commute trips may be somewhat longer if employment is concentrated in a central business district. For this reason, many urban planners believe that the most efficient urban land use pattern is to have a Central Business District that contains the highest level business activities “main offices” and smaller Commercial Centers with retail and “back offices” scattered around the city among residential areas.

A commercial building is a type of building that is used for commercial use. These can include office buildings, warehouses, or retail (i.e. convenience stores, 'big box' stores, shopping malls, etc.). In urban locations, a commercial building often combines functions, such as an office on levels 2-10, with retail on floor 1. All municipalities / cities / regions maintain strict regulations on commercial type zoning, and have the authority to designate any zoned area as such. A business must be located inside of an area zoned at least partially for commerce to operate a business in (and out of) a commercial building.

A shopping mall or shopping centre is a building or set of buildings which contain retail units, with interconnecting walkways enabling visitors to easily walk from unit to unit. Strip malls have developed since the 1920s, corresponding to the rise of suburban living in the United States after World War II. In the United Kingdom, these are called retail parks, out-of-town shopping centers, or precincts. In most of the world the term shopping centre is used, especially in Europe and Australasia; however shopping mall is also used, predominantly in North America. Shopping precinct and shopping arcade are also used. In North America, the term shopping mall is usually applied to enclosed retail structures (and may be abbreviated to simply mall) while shopping centre usually refers to open-air retail complexes.

Malls in Ireland, pronounced "maills", are very small shopping centres placed in the centre of town. They average about twenty years in age, with a mix of local shops and chain stores. These malls do not have shops found in the high street or modern shopping centres. Shopping centres in the United Kingdom can be referred to as "shopping centres", "shopping precincts", or "town centres".

A strip mall (also called a shopping plaza or mini-mall) is an open area shopping center where the stores are arranged in a row, with a sidewalk in front. Strip malls are typically developed as a unit and have large parking lots in front. They face major traffic arterials and tend to be self-contained with few pedestrian connections to surrounding neighborhoods. Strip malls vary widely in architecture. Older strip malls tend to have plain architecture with the stores arranged in a straight row; in some cases there are vacant stores. Newer strip malls are often built with elaborate architecture to blend in with the neighborhood and to attract the upscale consumer. In some cases, strip malls are broken up into smaller buildings to establish a more appropriate sense of scale and to create architectural articulation. A current trend with the purpose of screening the parking lot from the street and nearby residences is locating the buildings with little to no setback from the street. Some stores may allow for entrances from both the street sidewalk and the parking lot. Due to land use issues, strip malls in the United Kingdom are typically found on the edges of cities on Greenfield land sites, and are known as "out of town shopping centres". Those in more urban areas (often Brownfield land redeveloped sites) are more typically known as retail parks.

The term public school has two distinct (and virtually opposite) meanings depending on the location of usage. In the United States, Australia and Canada: A school funded from tax revenue and most commonly administered to some degree by government or local government agencies. This usage is synonymous with its British English equivalent, state school. In the United Kingdom and a few other Commonwealth countries: A traditional privately operated secondary school which usually requires the payment of fees for its pupils, and is often a boarding school. This usage is common in the United Kingdom (although can be ambiguous in Scotland). These schools, wherever located, often follow a British educational tradition and are committed in principle to public accessibility. Originally, many were single-sex boarding schools, but most independent schools are now co-educational with both boarders and day-pupils. This usage is synonymous with preparatory school in American English, though preparatory school in British English has a different meaning. Public-school education is the most common form of education in the United States and is provided mainly by local governments, with control and funding coming from three levels: federal, state, and local. Curricula, funding, teaching, and other policies are set through locally elected school boards by jurisdiction over school districts. The school districts are special-purpose districts authorized by provisions of state law. Generally, state governments can and do set minimum standards relating to almost all activities of primary and secondary schools, as well as funding and authorization to enact local school taxes to support the schools -- primarily through real property taxes. The federal government funds aid to states and school districts that meet minimum federal standards. School accreditation decisions are made by voluntary regional associations. The first tax-supported public school in America was in Dedham, Massachusetts. The vast majority of adults born in the U.S. have attended a U.S. public school.

Public school is normally split up into three stages: primary (elementary) school (kindergarten to 4th or 5th or 6th grade), junior high (also "intermediate", or "middle") school (5th or 6th or 7th to 8th or 9th) and high school (9th or 10th to 12th, somewhat archaically also called "secondary school"), with some less populated communities incorporating high school as 7th to 12th. Some Junior High Schools (Intermediate Schools) contain 7th to 9th grades or 7th and 8th, in which case the High School is 10th to 12th or 9th to 12th respectively. The middle school format is increasing in popularity, in which the Elementary School contains kindergarten through 5th grade and the Middle School contains 6th through 8th grade. In addition, some elementary schools are splitting into two levels, sometimes in separate buildings: Primary (usually K-2) and Intermediate (3-4 or 3-5). Some middle schools consist of only 7th and 8th grades. The K-8th format is also an emerging popular concept, in which students may attend only two schools for all of their K-12 education. Many charter schools feature the K-8 format in which all primary grades are housed in one section of the school while the traditional junior high school aged students are housed in another section of the school. Some very small school districts, primarily in rural areas, still maintain a K-12 system in which all students are housed in a single school.

In the United States, institutions of higher education that are operated and subsidized by U.S. states are also referred to as "public." However, unlike public secondary schools, public universities charge tuition, though these fees are usually much lower than those charged by private universities, particularly for "in-state" students. Community colleges, state colleges, and state universities are examples of public institutions of higher education. In particular, many state universities are regarded as among the best institutions of higher education in the U.S., though usually they are surpassed in ranking by certain private universities and colleges, such as those of the Ivy League, which are often very expensive and extremely selective in the students they accept. In several states, the administrations of public universities are elected via the general electoral ballot.

Thus the location of public school may vary in each context i.e. it may be located within city center in old city down town areas or in the outskirts of the city in more natural environments.

5. “Illegal to be Homeless” National Coalition for the Homeless (2004)
6. Malone, K. "Children, Youth and Sustainable Cities". Local Environment 6 (1)
7. "Conclusions of the International Seminar on the Planning of Collectively-Used Spaces in Towns", in: Monumentum (Louvain), Vol. 18-19, 1979, pp. 129-135.
12. Urban Geography: A Global Perspective By Michael Pacione
14. American Planning Association ( has extensive resources for community and transport planning.
15. Constance Beaumont and Leslie Tucker (2002), Big-Box Sprawl (And How to Control It), National Trust for Historic Preservation (
16. Eugenie L. Birch (2005), Who Lives Downtown?, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution (
17. Charles C. Bohl (2002), Place Making: Developing Town Centers, Main Streets and Urban Villages, Urban Land Institute (
18. Michael Carley (2000), Sustainable Transport and Retail Vitality: State of the Art for Towns & Cities, Donaldsons, National Trust for Scotland (
19. Michael Carley, Karryn Kirk and Sarah McIntosh (2001), Retailing, Sustainability And Neighbourhood Regeneration, (ISBN 1 84263 49 0) Joseph Roundtree Foundation (
20. Cities For Mobility ( is a global network of cities that promotes the development of sustainable and efficient transportation systems.
21. Congress for New Urbanism ( is a movement centered on intelligent neighborhood planning, and human scale urban communities.
22. CNU (2003), Civilizing Downtown Highways: Putting New Urbanism To Work On California’s Highways, Congress for the New Urbanism (
23. Eichenfield and Associates (2002), Strategies for Revitalizing Our Downtowns and Neighborhoods: Evaluating California Main Street Programs, Local Government Commission.

24. Reid Ewing, Rolf Pendall and Don Chen (2002), Measuring Sprawl and Its Impacts, Smart Growth America (
25. Lawrence Frank and Gary Pivo (1995), “Impacts of Mixed Use and Density on Utilization of Three Modes of Travel: SOV, Transit and Walking,” Transportation Research Record 1466, TRB (, pp. 44-55.
26. Joel Hirschhorn and Paul Souza (2001), New Community Design to the Rescue; Fulfilling Another American Dream, National Governor’s Association, (
27. International Downtown Association ( is a world leader and champion for vital and livable urban centers.
28. David Jacobs (2008), Eight is Enough, Business Report, 4 August 2008; at
29. Christopher B. Leinberger (2005), Turning Around Downtown: Twelve Steps to Revitalization, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution (
30. LGC (2004), Creating Great Neighborhoods: Density in Your Community, Local Government Commission (, US Environmental Protection Agency and the National Association of Realtors; at
31. Todd Litman (2003), Evaluating Criticism of Smart Growth, VTPI (; at
32. Todd Litman (2003), The Value of Downtowns, VTPI (;
33. Todd Litman (2004), Understanding Smart Growth Savings: What We Know About Public Infrastructure and Service Cost Savings, And How They are Misrepresented By Critics, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at
34. Todd Litman (2006), Community Cohesion As A Transport Planning Objective, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; available at
35. Todd Litman (2006), Parking Management: Strategies, Evaluation and Planning, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (; at
36. Todd Litman (2008), Recommendations for Improving LEED Transportation and Parking Credits, VTPI (; at
37. Livable Centres (, by the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), provides information about the design and benefits of compact urban centers.
38. Main Street Center ( provides information on ways to revitalize traditional commercial areas through historic preservation and grassroots-based economic development.
39. Michael Manfille and Donald Shoup (2004), “People, Parking, and Cities,” Access 25, (, Fall 2004, pp. 2-8.
40. Hugh McClintock (2004), Urban Regeneration, University of Nottingham Online Planning Resources ( Includes many bibliographies related to urban redevelopment and downtown planning.
41. National Trust for Historic Preservation ( focuses on preserving downtown areas and historic buildings.
42. NRTEE (2003), Environmental Quality in Canadian Cities: The Federal Role, National Round Table on the Environment and Economy (
43. Oregon Downtown Development Association (2001), Parking Management Made Easy: A Guide to Taming the Downtown Parking Beast, Transportation and Growth Management Program, Oregon DOT and Dept. of Environmental Quality (
44. Project for Public Spaces ( works to create and sustain public places that build communities. It provides a variety of resources for developing more livable communities.
45. San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) ( is a leading organization doing research to develop more livable urban areas.
46. SGN (2002 and 2004), Getting To Smart Growth: 100 Policies for Implementation, and Getting to Smart Growth II: 100 More Policies for Implementation, Smart Growth Network ( and International City/County Management Association (
47. Toolbox for Regional Policy Analysis Website ( by the US Federal Highway Administration, describes analytical methods for evaluating regional economic, social and environmental impacts of various transportation and land use policies.
48. Urban Land Institute ( is a professional organization for developers, which provides practical information on innovative development practices, including infill and sustainable community planning.
49. Urban Renaissance Institute ( works to help cities and their regions flourish by applying innovative market-based policies.
50. USEPA, Smart Growth Policy Database, US Environmental Protection Agency (
51. USEPA (2002), Smart Growth Index (SGI) Model, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( For technical information see Criterion (2002), Smart Growth Index Indicator Dictionary, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (
52. Kenneth H. Voigt and Jeffrey S. Polenske (2006), “Applying New Urbanism Street Principles in Downtown Milwaukee, WI, USA,” ITE Journal, Vol. 76, No. 5 (, May 2006, pp. 26-30.