CAS 420 /// Session #6 : Developing the Urban Fabric

How can the patterns of an urban area impact development of a specific site?



Before you design an urban space, it is critical to understand how the city works + where city planning is going.  Solutions that engage with the urban fabric must reinforce the existing city + the future planned city as well as the flow of people (automotive, bicycle, public transportation, pedestrian).  Prior to considering the site + even the adjacent streets cape, we diagram the adjacent city fabric.  We look for nodes where views + circulation terminate.  We look for auto + pedestrian traffic patterns.  We look for growth, momentum, energy + successful spaces.  Then we look for ways to strengthen + connect to the positive aspects of the urban context.

420 Court Avenue stands as the last remaining full block of vacant land along Court Avenue at the terminus of Court to 5th Avenue.  It presents a significant urban marker opportunity at 5th and Court.  The design fabric of the west side of downtown has developed three significant east west zones – Western Gateway, Walnut Street Corridor and the Court Avenue Entertainment District.  These zones stack and shift off each other in the plan of the city, but so far lack strong connection + overlap.  The north/south connections between the zones are crucial as we weave our City into a more walkable environment.  In the 5th street  redevelopment plans, it is proposed to revert 5th to a two way street thus enabling a strong north/south connection between Walnut Street Corridor and Court Avenue.  The 420 site, and in particular the NW corner, will serve as a vertical placemaking marker to introduce Court Avenue on the west side and can offer a place of respite at the foot of the Court House.

Our design fully embraces this understanding in the design of our Pocket Plaza.  More on this tomorrow!



CAS 420 is an opportunity to step into the SSA ‘war room’ where urban diagrams, placemaking ideas + urban living drove the design for our submission to the City of Des Moines for the project located at 420 Court Avenue.  Hubbell Realty Company, Slingshot Architecture + Reynolds Urban Design teamed up to propose a thoughtful solution derived from a regionalist connection.  Please comment + share with your friends.

Leave a Reply