About three weeks ago I blogged about the planned redo of the plaza areas in Writer Square, which was reported to include a glass pyramid and a moat, of all things. Today I’m happy to be able to post a few more renderings of the proposed design. These images are scans of a handout that was provided to Writer Square residents and business owners at a recent meeting with the developer. All images are copyright DHR Architecture / Blue Architects.
First, here’s the site plan:
In the initial phase, the corner at 16th and Lawrence will be a sunken plaza with a small water feature. Reportedly, the pyramid and underground commercial space for that corner would be a future phase only if the right high-profile retailer was found. The wall that runs along Larimer from the corner at 15th Street that separates the plaza from the sidewalk will be removed. I support that idea as it will improve pedestrian circulation, particularly when the city removes a drive lane from Larimer and consequently widens the sidewalk on the Writer Square side of the block next year. Also to be removed is the large triangular planter at the corner of 16th and Larimer, which should also improve pedestrian movement at that intersection.
The site plan also shows, however, that the pedestrian areas will be barren except for pedestrian lighting. The green trees shown on the site plan are on the landscaped upper level residential patios. There appear to be no trees planned for the public plazas themselves. Here are two images showing the proposed sunken plaza at 16th and Lawrence (left) and the plaza at 15th and Larimer (right):
I don’t know about you, but neither space seems particularly inviting. No seating, no flowers or trees, no public art, no shade. Really, who is going to want to sit on a folding chair and play the guitar in a sun-baked concrete plaza in the middle of the summer? In Downtown, we need more trees, more shady areas to provide shelter and refuse from the sun. What will be removed to make way for this sunken plaza? Mature trees. Also, these two images appear to show that the plaza surface will be–concrete squares? How interesting. Other improvements include updating the retail storefronts and signs, which seem appropriate to me.
Finally, here’s a night-time shot showing proposed new signage at 15th and Lawrence:
The project is supposed to begin later this spring and be finished before the end of the year, and will occur in five stages so that the whole site is not impacted at the same time.
Overall, I’m underwhelmed. I fully support the idea of making improvements to Writer Square in general. The existing plaza surfaces are in poor condition, and a general sprucing up of the pedestrian areas and storefronts is a welcome investment. But getting rid of all seating and landscaping seems unwise to me. Writer Square currently provides a pleasant place to sit and relax for a few minutes, set back a bit from the busy streets that surround it. Under the proposed plan, it looks like it will be not a place to dwell, but simply to pass through. Does that really make for a great public space?