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Building Entry Frequency

Article

Frequency of entries refers to the linear spacing of ground-floor entries over a given distance. Entries are an important characteristic of buildings and sites, as they help create a more engaging corridor. Streets and sidewalks along which there is a high frequency of ground floor entries will generally have more pedestrian traffic than those with a low frequency of entries.

Thoroughfares lined by frequent entries are more inviting places for pedestrian activity than those with many closed, featureless walls. The images below are examples of thoroughfares with commercial building frontages with a low frequency of entries. These thoroughfares represent two rather unappealing pedestrian corridors.

Low entry frequency
Credit: FTB
Low entry frequency
Credit: FTB

The images below provide examples of thoroughfares with commercial building frontages having a high frequency of entries. In retail areas, a high frequency of entries (approximately one every 20 to 40 feet) will both support and generate pedestrian activity, while a low frequency of entries tends to discourage pedestrian activity. Many great streets are associated with a high quality as well as high frequency of entries.

High entry frequency
Credit: FTB
High entry frequency
Credit: FTB

Below are examples of thoroughfares with residential building frontages with a low frequency of entries (left) and a high frequency of entries (right). Again, a high frequency of entries both supports pedestrian activity and helps to generate it, and low frequency tends to discourage it. The second image depicts a much more engaging pedestrian environment.

Low entry frequency - residential
Credit: FTB
High entry frequency - residential
Credit: FTB

Landscaped parkway Credit: FTB However, not every thoroughfare must have a high frequency of entries in order to be attractive and function as an effective urban corridor. At right is a parkway segment of a thoroughfare that is primarily focused on mobility rather than site or building access.

The corridor's mobility orientation is in part achieved by projecting a strong and effective landscape character in the absence of buildings lining the street. Behind the screening trees and hedges of the street edge are low to medium density residential neighborhoods.

The frequency of building entries plays an important role in creating a great street. Pedestrians are more comfortable when entrances to buildings occur frequently and when those entrances are easy to access.

Orient buildings and building entry to the street. Great streets provide convenient commercial access for pedestrians and become desired streets for driving as well, with lots of activity along the street. When buildings and building entries are oriented to the street, they minimize distances for pedestrians and encourage a more vibrant and secure public realm.

Encourage smaller lots. As areas undergo redevelopment, it is important to consider how lot size affects not only the frequency of building entry but also the character and scale of a thoroughfare. Large lots discourage pedestrian activity by increasing distances between uses and large-lot development is often inconsistent with good pedestrian design. Smaller lots are more considerate of the pedestrian scale. Additional benefits of smaller lots are increased density, which improves the feasibility of transit, and affordability.

Frequency of entries, then, is one factor among many that come into play when considering the necessary balance and tradeoffs between land use character, mobility, site access, pedestrian activity, transit use, and architectural character in thoroughfare design and corridor planning.