Tuesday, January 17, 2012

‘Creating nature’ with an urban village in Seattle

This is apparently Seattle’s first transit-oriented development (TOD). If it gets better than this with TODs so come, hold on to your seats, you’re in for a fun ride.
The starting point is a 9-acre parking lot (left of photo), pretty much your standard building block in many U.S. cities, though adjacent to a major bus transfer station with planned light rail access, which means walkable urban village development is a natural next step. However, one half of what makes this a model for the rest of country is that rather than develop right over the parking block, the public-private partnership between the public and private sectors “daylighted” a creek that was covered by the lot, which as close as you’re going to get in actually creating nature. Within one month after opening, native birds were observed at the project. The restored Thornton Creek also collects urban stormwater runoff from 680 acres.
The other half of what makes this a national model is what they did with the rest of the parking lot block (about twice the size of a typical Seattle block), replacing an exclusive hang out for cars with Thornton Place, a habitat for people and no thoroughfare for cars: 109 condos, 278 apartments (20% affordable), a 14-screen cinema, 50,000 sf of retail and a beautiful, vibrant plaza surrounded by restaurants (above). Maybe they’ll eventually enlarge the plaza by replacing the head-on parking spaces with outdoor dining area.

more about urban village:

City Comforts – How to Build an Urban Village – Book Review

In Markham, the dream of an urban village that never was

neo-traditional development: a post modern way in urban design

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