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 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 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. Competitors will be asked to build on the green infrastructure work already planned for Wyoming Street, and explore 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.
Wyoming Street is located within Syracuse’s Westside, one of the first residential neighborhoods in the city. Through the efforts of the Near Westside Initiative (NWSI), a non-profit community development corporation, this neighborhood is being transformed from one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the region into a thriving creative, healthy, mixed income community. The NWSI’s mission is to combine the power of art, green technology and innovation with neighborhood values and culture to revitalize the neighborhood now known as the SALT district.
Syracuse University provided the leadership and $10 million in seed funding to get the project off the ground. To date 52 faculty from 5 Colleges and over 1000 students have been directly engaged in the neighborhood’s revitalization. Home Headquarters, Syracuse’s Neighborworks Corporation, works to revitalize the housing stock and increase home ownership in the SALT District. The Syracuse COE focuses on the district as a test bed for green technologies. The Syracuse University School of Architecture’s UPSTATE: Center for Design, Research and Real-estate provides neighborhood planning and design services. The Gifford Foundation, a small private charitable trust, has been instrumental in ensuring proper community engagement and resident ownership of this revitalization process. Lastly, the SU office of Community Engagement and Economic Development manages the overall Near Westside Initiative with its vice president acting as the NWSI board president and employing the executive director.
By building on the existing talents and assets of the area, the Near Westside Initiative is attracting artists, musicians, businesses and entrepreneurs. In the past four years the SALT District has attracted over $70 million dollars in leveraged investment and 337 new jobs. The SALT District is now a rapidly developing creative community with Wyoming Street the recipient of the majority of recent commercial investment. At its northernmost corner, an abandoned warehouse is being converted into the headquarters for Central New York’s public broadcasting station, WCNY Connected, and the newly opened headquarters for ProLiteracy, the largest international literacy organization in the world. Also here is the Delavan Center, an artist community which houses artist studios and workspaces. At mid-block is the newly renovated Lincoln Supply Building that houses artist live/work lofts, a Latino cultural center, and the headquarters for SAY YES, a district-wide school transformation effort. SALT Quarters new artist in residency building funded by ARTPLACE is also mid-block. At the southern terminus of Wyoming Street an innovative new development is being constructed that expands and joins a neighborhood health clinic with a revitalized full service neighborhood grocery store.
This competition, through the advanced design approaches it yields and the resulting built work, will demonstrate the feasibility of bringing a high quality of design to a diverse, traditionally underserved neighborhood seeing renewed attention and investment. Its ambition is to wed high design standards and advanced technology in the development of a healthy street that will catalyze movement and the continual improvement of the neighborhood.
Syracuse University Office of Community Engagement and Economic Development
UPSTATE: A Center for Design, Research and Real Estate at Syracuse University School of Architecture
The Educational Foundation of America
The Near Westside Initiative, Inc.
Onondaga County “Save the Rain” Program
With additional support provided by
The Syracuse University School of Architecture
The Syracuse Housing Authority
The City of Syracuse