Over the years design competitions have used public spaces, streetscapes and parks as their subject. Few, if any, have combined the ambitions of health – of both the body and the environment – with promoting activity within the civic spaces of the street.
On first reading, the challenge of this competition sounds simple: design a streetscape that encourages neighborhood residents to engage in active uses within a streetscape right-of-way and adjoining parcels. Limit the budget to $250,000 of improvements per block (exclusive of green infrastructure) and the task for the five (5) block site gets harder, as this is not simply an ideas competition – producing polemical statements or visionary schemes – the winning scheme will be built. Create something the whole community can embrace and point to with pride and you face a complex task indeed.
The organizers of this competition believe that your team is capable of creating a “healthy main street” – making meaningful design solutions that will catalyze activity within the neighborhood, encourage future development opportunities while being sensitive to local businesses, and serve as a model nationally for other neighborhoods seeking to do similar projects conflating design and public health.
We look forward to reviewing your work and wish you the best of luck.
1.2 Streetscape Design
The city street has always been a place where people gather to enjoy urban life. A street was originally any paved surface of connection, yet designers and planners now draw an important distinction – whereas a road’s main purpose is transportation, a street facilitates public interaction acting as great public spaces themselves. In addition to their social functions, streets increasingly play important ecological roles in the city, with green infrastructure strategies that serve to amplify the space as a livable, and living, place. Many highly beneficial social outcomes, including economic growth, increased health, and improvements in air quality are linked to well-designed streets that enable active social and ecologic life.
Street types range in size and character – from grand avenues and boulevards to more modest alleys and lanes. Some of the most celebrated streets, such as Las Ramblas in Barcelona, are defined by its dimensions and the nature of its physical amenities – planting, furnishing, lighting, paving and signage – and are enlivened by the buildings and activities that edge it. However, even modestly sized streets can have a prominent presence in the city, such as the image Lombard Street’s branded curves bring to San Francisco. In the US, Main Street in particular is known as the primary retail street in a village or town to which residents go for shopping, socializing and strolling.
Movement on Main is a two-stage competition. Five teams will be issued this Stage II Competition Brief. The five teams will travel to Syracuse for a daylong Information Session that will include a tour of the Near Westside neighborhood and Wyoming Street site. You will hear presentations by project stakeholders and other community members. A competition packet with background information about the neighborhood, the proposed site, and the program will be sent to each team in advance of the Information Session so that you can familiarize yourself with the specific challenge and the resources available.
The intention of the competition is to draw out the most advanced thinking about design, landscape urbanism, sustainability and the role our public spaces play in enhancing public health and recreation.
General. Movement on Main seeks to elaborate on the street’s role as an agent of social and recreational life. This unique and innovative street redesign will create a new public gathering place that encourages the community to engage in their neighborhood’s emergent creative life through a variety of movement, including, but not limited to: strolling, running, dancing, and bicycling. The site for this competition is Wyoming Street and a selection of adjoining parcels. In addition to more normative modes of movement, competitors will be asked to explore innovative forms of exercise suitable for this climate, such as snow shoveling, as well as new technologies that activate and engage, such as kinetic energy applications, sensor driven musical pavers, movement activated lighting, and public “exergames.” The successful and implementable design will knit together recent development efforts in the area, improve public safety, and provide public education focused on personal and environmental health. When complete, the redesign and reconstruction of Wyoming Street into a central thoroughfare will invite and inspire movement for SALT District residents and visitors of all ages and backgrounds in all four seasons and in many types of weather.
Parking. Currently there is alternate side of the street parking along Wyoming Street. Teams should continue to provide the total number of spaces equal to one side of parking. Additionally, the City Lot opposite of the Case Supply Building is to contain between 88 to 121parking spaces all the while being actively programmed (the more, the better.)
Adjacent Parcels. In addition to the Wyoming Street Right-of-Way, teams have the opportunity to design active program in a few adjacent parcels and small areas of space. There are six. First is the City Lot opposite the Case Supply Building. Second is a parcel mid-block on the east side of the street between Otisco and Tully Streets. Third and fourth are small parcels on the north side of Tully Street. Fifth is a series of small triangular spaces along the west side of the street between Fabius and Gifford Streets. Finally, the sixth is a small island of space that extends into Nojaim’s Grocery Store parking lot.
Green Neighborhood / Green Infrastructure.The Near Westside Initiative has partnered with the Syracuse University School of Architecture and the UPSTATE: Center for Design, Research and Real Estate to develop a neighborhood plan that focuses on green concepts, and has been able to undertake and complete some green initiatives in the community. This comprehensive neighborhood plan focuses on circulation networks, green infrastructure, landuse and zoning, lighting, and wayfinding. This plan is nearing completion and has been created in collaboration with the residents of the NWS and the City of Syracuse to ensure that it has the ability to be implemented with neighborhood buy-in and cooperation from the city. The Otisco Street Green Corridor, Skiddy Park Improvements, and native tree planting are some of the first green infrastructure projects to be constructed on the Near Westside as part of Onondaga County’s “Save the Rain, Save the Lake” program. Teams are asked to design green infrastructure improvements for Wyoming Street that provide storage for at least 1-inch of runoff during all storm events. Although green infrastructure concepts and strategies are important, the competition organizers stress that the successful entry emphasizes designing for movement and for activating the street.
Roadway Reapportioning and Temporary Street Closures
Teams should carefully consider the feasibility of reapportioning the roadway for other modes of transportation, such as designated or shared bike lanes. Teams should also consider the opportunities and constraints of temporary street closures for events, such as festivals.
It is important when developing the design to remember that Syracuse has cold winters. Prone to both lake effect snow and “nor’ easters,” the city has a high annual snowfall – 115” on average (and 40” annual total precipitation). Lows in January are around 14 degrees and highs in July are close to 82 degrees.
The construction budget for phase one of this project is $1,500,000 (approximately $250,000 per block) not including costs for the green infrastructure.