Part II – Walling Ourselves In
In Part One of this series we toured a section of downtown Atlanta that contains some of the nation’s most stunning towers. Unfortunately most of these buildings left pedestrians with nothing to do, and the streets for many consecutive blocks look like a ghost town. The lesson is important as Raleigh is not immune to this problem.
There are a couple of canyonesque areas in downtown Raleigh that are already evolving this aforementioned way. One is Wilmington Street. The new
A second problematic area exists near Nash Square. One way streets McDowell and Dawson form the square’s eastern and western boundaries, and are meant for moving traffic quickly from S. Saunders to Capital Blvd. As a driver these streets work, but as a pedestrian they are similar to that windy, unpleasant block of Spring St. in Atlanta.
As one travels north on McDowell from Poole’s Diner (
As one can imagine from the photos, pedestrians in two of the blocks nearest Nash Square have a boring, miserable experience. There is nothing to do, traffic is roaring, and wind howels down through the concrete canyon.
The City of Raleigh released concepts for a new high-rise Enforcement Center to be located across from this long blank wall. While the planned facility is intended for functional municipal uses, the City finds itself in a position to start correcting one of downtown’s biggest missed opportunities. Design of the east facade of the center should contain space for items pedestrians can use. This block between Hargett and Morgan will be heavily traveled by Campbell Law students en route to courthouse activities, so there will soon be demand for cafes, book stores, coffee shops, office supply stores, and the like.
A second step toward correcting this block is for AT&T to move their operations to another site. Certainly today’s microtechnology doesn’t require such a massive complex, and could either be rearranged on site or relocated off-site. The classic building at McDowell and Morgan could either be renovated or replaced with something more conducive to downtown life.
Mr. Mayor, tear down these walls.
As other projects are constructed throughout downtown, designers need to be mindful of the puzzle piece they are designing. The next part of this series will identify potential problem areas for pedestrian design throughout downtown.
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