Monday, February 19, 2007
Easing the Way for "Feet on the Street"
Last Friday, Ko Wibowo from McGranahan Architects and local attorney Erik Bjornson gave a fascinating presentation on the importance of safe, attractive and usable mid-block walkways in downtown Tacoma and how they are critical to the success of the City Center. Wibowo and Bjornson were inspired by last year's Project for Public Spaces workshop to examine downtown's hillclimbs for several months, noting obstacles to pedestrian activity. On Friday, the pair focused their comments on the walkway adjacent to the South Park Plaza garage, which is slated for retrofitting soon.
Combining the best methods for bringing success to a downtown with architectural drawings and illustrations, they discussed problems with the current design of the walkway, lack of use, blind spots, real and perceived safety issues, and the connection between the current problems with the walkways and their design. Some members of the Tacoma press have accurately described the area on Pacific Ave. near the walkway as a "dead zone" even though it is located between two of the largest commercial buildings downtown.
The pair discussed how an optimal design for the walkway adjacent to the garage could make it inviting and functional for pedestrians and comply with Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) strategies. Bjornson and Wibowo suggested that the walkway design needs to be addressed at the same time the garage is being modified to increase the chance that the retail space in the garage and surrounding area can be successful.