Friday, February 21, 2014

20 Years of Urban Design in Maine 5

1992 article in Maine Sunday Telegram.

In 1992, a recession year, I wrote this article as a pep talk to the city. I talked about what an amazing pedestrian experience we had here and how we could strengthen this by looking at our past, our present, and our future. 

Using the diagrammatic historical analysis described in my previous post, I laid out a roadmap for urban design work that built on the cities past. 

Diagram from article.

We needed to reconnect streets from Congress across Commercial Street out into the waterfront and be able to walk all around the piers. The whole peninsula I suggested could have a marginal way walk around it. Plazas along the waterfront would encourage public use and hence economic activity. People should be able to walk all around the nooks and crannies of the waterfront. Mixed use buildings with waterfront use out on piers at pier level and other non-residential uses above with most density at Commercial Street. Imagine an outdoor fish market.

Graphics from article using my thesis project as example.

Commercial Street itself at the time was a giant gap between the waterfront side and old port. I proposed narrowing this length for pedestrians by extending the sidewalks the depth of the angle parked cars narrowing the distance from 60 feet to 36 feet. Also, to plant trees and put lights and bench infrastructure in. And to use form based coding to create a variegated building profile along the water's edge (nooks and crannies).

Portland has the bones of a medieval european pedestrian city with our brick sidewalks and historic center. In 1992 while malls ruled the country, this article stood for the human scaled life. Next, further discussion of the article's ideas.

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