As part of an ongoing street design project, Future Green Studio is exploring the rich history of the street as an integral part of public life. In dense urban centers, where new parkland is difficult to assemble and finance, streets play an increasingly important role in the civic realm. Thoroughfares carry the pulse of everyday life; through small design interventions, they can be transformed into vibrant, universally accessible public spaces.
Precedents, such as the Rambla in Barcelona and Broadway in New York City, demonstrate that a carefully designed street is not merely a means of circulation, but a destination in itself. We’ve evaluated the circulation, adjacent uses, design features, and maintenance structure of successful great streets around the world. We are applying this research to our designs for two proposed streets in Washington DC: Neal Place adjacent to the Gallaudet University campus and Half Street leading to the Nationals baseball stadium. We are drawing on the history of transportation planning in DC, beginning with the L’Enfant plan, which established a grid crossed diagonally with grand avenues punctuated with public plazas. The design challenge in Half Street will be creating a curbless environment that feels safe, supports the adjacent retail, and accommodates the large crowd that gathers on game days. The design team is currently exploring several methods of directing and slowing vehicular traffic, integrating stormwater management, employing resilient vegetation, and organizing fixed and temporary program.