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The Streetscape Challenge: When Cheap Becomes Expensive

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

We at PAVERART applaud municipalities across the USA that aim to bring art into their towns.

Whether it's mural arts on old buildings, or a world that we know very well, decorative streetscapes, we love how beautiful, artistic designs bring a smile to people's faces.

landscape design, landscape architecture, streetscape, paverart, streetscapes, pavers, inlay, outdoorliving, hardscaping
Plainfield Il. Custom Streetscape by PAVERART

Municipalities that have the vision to incorporate Art into their towns usually have a broader idea about attracting visitors and bringing commerce to local small businesses. There are a myriad of considerations that come into play when towns take on big streetscape projects, but to name a few:

  • What's it going to cost?

  • Who can get us what we need?

  • How disruptive will it be? How long will the area be shut down for?

  • What type of technology to bring the vision to life?

  • How long will it last?

In our experience, BUDGET is always a top consideration. HOWEVER....

LIFETIME cost of a project is rarely considered when comparing multiple alternatives. It is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to understand the total LIFETIME COST of a project without understanding durability, how long will it last?

People overlook LIFETIME Cost all too often. Comparing 2 numbers is easy. Understanding lifetime cost requires a bit more, but critical homework.

If one project provider can achieve an artistic vision for say $10, and one for $30, doesn't it make sense to see if the $10 alternative will last as long as the $30 project? What if it is so much "cheaper" because it only lasts for 6 months?

Want to get something done cheap? Paint it! It will look great. For a few months......

We have a couple of good examples of 2 technologies: PAVERART & Painted Concrete. The videos below do a nice job showing the differences.

Put simply, PAVERART is Built to Last.

Paint is NOT.

1) Wildwood, NJ

* A great Jersey Shore beach community, Rio Grande Avenue is one of the most traveled roads leading up to the convention center. 4 major intersection streetscapes greet travelers, proudly built by PAVERART over 16 years ago. For 16 years, millions of cars, the salt air, snow/snow plows have traveled over these intersections.

This video was shot over 16 years after the install. After a good cleaning to get the tire marks off, the vibrancy and durability of colored concrete pavers are obvious.

2) Philadelphia - The OVAL

* This video shows "The Oval," a great project aimed at creating a pop up destination in Philadelphia for 4 weeks in the summer. We LOVE the program, and any effort to bring people together and if ART is part of that, BRAVO!

BUT, this video is meant to illustrate STREETSCAPE technology, in this case Paint. In less than 1 year from construction, here's a walk-through of the OVAL.

The above example is NOT meant to compare "the right way or the wrong way." The OVAL program may have only been designed to look good for 2 months, and then it would get repaired/re-done, etc and that was part of the program. So a project is all about the specific objectives and if they were achieved. is a fact that many of our streetscape projects have come to us from cheaper technologies (on the surface) that did NOT pass the test of time. In other words:

Cheap, all too often, becomes expensive.

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