Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cutting Our Blocks Down to Size

Erik Bjornson, an attorney whose office is downtown just off Fireman's Park, has been inspired by the recent Project for Public Spaces workshop and his own reading of Jane Jacobs to focus on walking downtown:
Jane Jacobs recommended "short blocks" when designing a downtown. We, of course, cannot redesign the city.

However, many of the connectors between streets, especially between Pacific, Commerce and Broadway are inoperable as they are far too cluttered to be functional. Thus, they are not used.

Perhaps we could identify them and work to have them improved. It shouldn't cost too much and would be a great benefit to downtown than many of the proposals I am hearing about.
Erik is hoping that some other readers of this blog might join him in seeking a more walkable city center. He has identified the following steps:
  1. Identifying connecting passages between streets downtown with names locations and intended function;
  2. Identifying the difficulties of passing through them and suggesting design changes and solutions--"the cheaper and easier the better so we do not have to wait for 5 years to get a $250,000 grant for each one";
  3. Prioritizing them based on the amount of foot traffic currently impeded and how central they are to downtown Tacoma.
  4. Additionally, Erik would like to have a few pictures taken if someone has a digital camera.
Sound interesting? Please contact Erik and lend a hand!

4 comments:

  1. One of the challenges Tacoma has always had with its downtown is the steep grade.

    I would like to see the stair connectors re-done to be more open and inviting.

    What stair connectors? The ones between Pacific and Commerce and Commerce and Broadway at the half block mark from 9th to 13th.

    Back in the day, there used to be escalators- but vandals effectively shut them down- they are now boxed in and are taking up valuable space.

    Let's tear the escalator boxes out, expand the existing stairways, and make use of these important connectors. Currently they are somewhat hidden, difficult to find and are a magnet for the homeless looking for shelter.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Back in the day, there used to be escalators- but vandals effectively shut them down- they are now boxed in and are taking up valuable space.

    Let's tear the escalator boxes out, expand the existing stairways, and make use of these important connectors.


    Very good idea. That would certainly help alot.

    Also, take a look at the passage beside the Rust Building from Pacific Avenue which was intended to connect Pacific Avenue with Commerce.

    This area contains two sets of stairs blocking off the view to the area from the street.

    The two sets of stairs has created a crater type area behind the first set of stairs which is out of sight of anyone.

    This area is right by the bus stop and should be in continuous use yet it is hardly used at all.

    This is right by your building Paul.

    Solution: The city could simply remove the first set of stairs as they have no functional use and only block the view of the area.

    Also, as much as I like trees. There are too many of them there which are creating a very dark area between two buildings.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This might be a good topic to have a bi-weekly lunch walk for people working downtown. I don't have much free time right now, but I could donate a lunch here and there to take part in this study.

    I also could probably enlist a couple other architect friends as well.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous11:26 AM

    I find some information here.

    ReplyDelete