FROM THE AIA:
The Creative Corridor project reclaims a four-block segment of a neglected Main Street. Rather than relying on Main Street’s traditional retail base, this project relies on the arts to catalyze economic development. The Creative Corridor would create a mixed-use environment sensitive to the historical context.
The plan addresses Main Street’s reputation as an unsafe place, particularly after work hours. The project reintroduces the traditional social functions of streets (gathering, assembly, recreation, aesthetics), which for a long time had been subordinated to traffic needs.
The project proposes a three-phase incremental approach. First the plan proposes creating gateways, or urban “rooms” to calm traffic and mark transitions into the Corridor. The next step is developing a center, or demarcating the most important intersection in Little Rock with a plaza. To create a memorable room in this space, the plan proposes an elevated lawn/amphitheater, a public transit stop, an arcade, a light garden, and public art. The third and final phase is linking phases one and two together by “thickening the edge,” which the plan defines as creating a pedestrian promenade and low-impact development infrastructure. Phases can be accomplished in succession, or simultaneously, as private investment and political will permit.
Recognizing that setting architectural guidelines is not politically feasible, the plan proposes townscaping elements, such as arcades, marquees, and stormwater-management landscapes, to bridge street and building interiors. Townscaping strategies reconfigure the street as an illuminated work of public art responsive to user inputs. Also streetscapes are designed to deliver ecological services in addition to urban services. Based on the Creative Corridor plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency committed $1.2 million to implement the plan’s low-impact development streetscapes. Aside from that, more than $160 million in building renovations are currently underway, including more than 200 dwelling units.
For more information on the 2014 AIA Honor Awards, please visit http://www.aia.org/practicing/awards/2014/regional-urban-design/creative-corridor/