Urbanism Next
University of OregonUniversity of Oregon

Street Relationships

Emerging technologies could change the way buildings relate to streets, affecting street vitality and ground floor uses.


The new norm of physical distancing is changing how individuals and businesses treat shared spaces including streets and sidewalks. Urbanism Next explores how  interactions with the built environment are changing during the pandemic on the Building Design Covid Impacts page.

To learn more about how Covid-19 is changing urban areas, from transportation to building design and real estate, read Urbanism Next's two new reports in the Covid-19 – Impacts on Cities and Suburbs series, Key Takeaways Across Multiple Sectors and Impacts to the Urbanism Next Framework.

What is driving change?

Change in Parking Demand

The proliferation of on-demand ridehailing services accompanied by a decrease in vehicle ownership is likely to reduce the demand for parking spaces. New buildings may be built with less parking, no parking, or parking that can be easily converted into other uses in the future. A reduction in demand for existing parking capacity will create opportunities to modify existing properties.

Shift in Modes

As the use of micromobility and on-demand ride services increase, building design may change to reflect these modal shifts. Parking facilities, for instance, may be repurposed into mobility hubs with docking stations or pick-up/drop-off spaces, accommodating both passenger and goods movement.

Changes in Goods & Meal Delivery

E-commerce and the sharing economy are facilitating the growth of on-demand delivery services. Today, goods and meals can be ordered online and delivered quickly. Real estate developers may need to dedicate a portion of the property for new forms of delivery stations and building services that address logistics and security concerns related to deliveries. Already some developers and residential building managers are adding and/or expanding package areas to manage the increase in deliveries and incorporating package concierge service stations.

Future Changes

What Could Happen?

  • Building lobbies could increase in importance. As pick up and drop off play a larger role in transportation, indoor waiting areas with visibility to pick-up and drop-off zones could become a highly valued building amenity. Depending on where these pick-up and drop-off zones are located, building entrances may be reoriented or added to serve these needs. Lobbies and waiting areas may become more socially-oriented spaces, but concerns around security and access of common spaces could affect interior building design as the number of deliveries and delivery carriers increase.
  • Sidewalks could see more foot traffic and activity. Street corridors that cater to new mobility modes could provide increased opportunities for street-level retail, sidewalk cafes, and so forth as people use modes that allow street level engagement more than personal vehicles allows. The success of this, however, will likely be linked to how new mobility modes are accommodated within the right-of-way. Creating dedicated lanes for bikes and scooters is more likely to encourage street level activity as this would leave sidewalks available for pedestrians.
  • How building fronts are designed could become more important. When buildings come forward to meet the street, street level transparency, activation, and access become more important elements for building design. Areas with high amounts of blank building walls and less street-level transparency could suffer as these blank frontages become more of a liability as they move closer to the street. Renovating buildings to meet changing needs will have smaller environmental impacts than teardowns and rebuilds.
People walking on sidewalk beside narrow road

Photo by Paweł L. on Pexels


  • More deliveries and more delivery vehicles are engaging with buildings. Package carriers are spending more time making an increased number of deliveries to individual recipients within a given building. This includes both parcel delivery and food delivery. Package lockers both inside building lobbies and on the street are beginning to emerge as options that increase delivery efficiency while providing secure package storage for recipients.
  • Pick up and drop off activity is increasing. Transportation network companies continue to grow and they are causing congestion in streets and on sidewalks. While curb management is an essential part of mitigating the effects of this increased activity, most current building-street interfaces are not designed to handle the volume and types of these new services.
  • Interest in experiential retail is growing. Building-street relationships are an important part of the look and feel of these types of retailers, with the type of aesthetic varying amongst retailer type and target clientele. Depending on specific needs, the benefits or flaws of existing buildings could serve as attractors or detractors to future retail tenants.

Quick facts

Si aliae qui ommolenet que prati aut eossitae optatus daepell uptatur andante comni idebit quid moluptio te am quat facculparum recaecte.

  • A California study found that only 40% of FedEx, UPS, and USPS vehicles parked in loading zones or other authorized spaces and were otherwise illegally parked.
  • According to a University of Washington study, urban freight transport accounts for 28% of congestion despite making up only 7% of the vehicles on the road.

What to do

Si aliae qui ommolenet que prati aut eossitae optatus daepell uptatur andante comni idebit quid moluptio te am quat facculparum recaecte.

Not sure where to start? Below are four What to Do pages that we think are especially relevant to Street Relationships:

More about what to do »


Policies, pilots, and approaches

Communication tools

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