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What is the environmental context of this project’s site and how might it affect the design?

In this post we look at the site through four different lenses. The diagrams below describe the site through: sun and shade, non-residential activity, pedestrian traffic and street traffic. These factors may or may not impact the building design, but they provide useful background for decisions making and analysis.

Sun and Shade

Westcott Street runs north-south perpendicular to the sun’s path. Therefore, the south end of the site, adjacent to the florist, will have the best sun access and is a natural location for an outdoor space on the property.

Trees provide critical shade for human comfort during hot summer months. Though Westcott street has good stretches of trees, there are none along the narrow sidewalk between the theatre and the barber. In order to increase tree shade, it will be ideal if this project can plant a tree adjacent to the sidewalk, within the property.

Business District Activity

The non-residential activity of the district is concentrated near the Harvard Place intersection near Mom’s Diner, Alto Cinco, Westcott Theatre, Beer Belly and Boom Babies. The gap in activity density at the project site is a weak link in the business district. The current property prioritizes parking at the expense of storefront and pedestrian life. Providing more continuous activity within this small commercial district will create opportunities for increased cross-pollination between businesses. Equally as important, those traveling through the district without the intent of stopping will encounter a livelier, and safer, public space.

Pedestrian Activity

In community business districts, pedestrians criss-cross the street at many locations besides the cross-walks. These patterns are an expression of a healthy urban space where pedestrians feel comfortable in the street.

Pedestrian traffic to and from Victoria Place, where the library is located, flows directly toward the south side of the site. This pedestrian alignment is another advantage to locating the property’s outdoor space on the south side: the public nature of library foot-traffic would flow directly into the most public area of the site.

Street Traffic

The major arterial of Westcott street is supported by Harvard Place, Beech and Dell streets as the primary routes in and out of the neighborhood core. One of our project goals is the reduction of car traffic across the sidewalks, which happens at every parking lot access driveway (seen in the diagram as purple arrows). Having fewer curb-cuts along the sidewalk creates a safer and more welcoming street for pedestrians, and for cyclists too. The location of numerous bus stops in the district supports a car-free lifestyle around Westcott.

If you’re familiar with the site, are there other environmental factors that you think should provide context for the project’s design? Give us your thoughts below: