design thinking initiatives for a better urban life
Posts by Aaron
What tools does a city have to create public spaces? One option is to develop the spaces themselves, another is to entice outside developers to build via zoning and incentives. Each approach has pros and cons, the struggle is finding the best solution given the specific needs of a community.
Some of the positive aspects of cities taking ownership of the development of public spaces are: The community has more control over the qualities of the final product, the public maintains ownership of the property, and it can be a possible revenue generator for the city. The negative aspects being: The project will be publicly funded and maintained, therefore subject to voter approval in many cases, it can take a very long time to work through the bureaucratic processes, and finding tenants or scheduling events is the responsibility of the city.
Some positive aspects of private development are: (more…)
What makes a “successful” community?
There are many answers to this. The people, the culture, the built environment, the local businesses, the public spaces, community centers, social engagement, neighborhood “branding”, ect… One could spend all day arguing how one aspect is more important than the others in the creation of the elusive capital c “Community”. My research has led me to explore several neighborhoods that, on the surface, appear to have all the required pieces for a successful Community. One such neighborhood, and the site of my proposed project, is the area immediately surrounding Elmonica Station in Beaverton, OR.
The surrounding area has many positive attributes. Proximity to major arterials, abundant available green space, mostly walkable streets, proximity to transit station, young and active resident demographic… But there are several issues that are preventing this area from being totally successful as a social community. They are:
-Lack of active public spaces
– Lack of casual dining/shopping
– No evening entertainment/Local affordable dining
-Baseline/Jenkins Rd Extremely wide, and speed limit is too high
-No active street front along nearby businesses
What this area is lacking is an active core development, and real public places. People inherently are driven to gather, and establish groups. However, with today’s car based culture keeping us in little bubbles whenever we leave the house, opportunities for casual social engagement are slim. A mixed use community/residential/business/retail development can be an active business center while providing active public spaces for people to use for social engagement within their neighborhood.
I need to complete several steps to determine exactly the blend of mixed use that is most appropriate for this site. Further analysis of local demographics and business mapping can show what specifically is lacking in the neighborhood. I also need to get in contact with Trimet to see what their current “vision” for the site is. Zoning is already set up for high density mixed use development, so there is no conflict in that area. After I complete these steps, I can begin to draft a development plan for the site.
Elmonica Station, near South corner of proposed site
South coner of proposed site, current buildings mostly consist of vacant light industrial warehouses
NE corner of proposed site, derelict structure borders arterial and sits across from small retail development
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