City of Lawrence receives East Ninth Plan

Posted on May 27th, 2016 at 4:03 pm by

On Tuesday of this week, the City of Lawrence Commissioners voted to officially receive our proposed plan for the redevelopment of East 9th Street, connecting Massachusetts Street to East Lawrence and the Warehouse Arts District. The plan represents an innovative urban design model, embedding artists in the city planning phases of street design and sustainable infrastructure implementation. Calgary based art practice Sans façon and Minneapolis based landscape architect Coen+Partners joined local civil engineer Bartlett & West and Lawrence historian Dennis Domer to engage Lawrence citizens, stakeholders and city staff to collaboratively develop a street design that is highly responsive to the historical urban and ecological fabric of East Lawrence while introducing new infrastructure that supports multi-modal transportation, communal gathering and responsible stormwater management. The project, catalyzed in part by a national ArtPlace America grant, benefited a great deal from artist participation. Along the way, East Ninth invited eleven artists to join its team, eight of which are Lawrence-based art practices.

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Site locator diagram

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East Ninth Citizen Advisory Committee composition

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Balancing amenities

At the commencement of the project, the City of Lawrence assisted the East Ninth project team by assembling a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC)— a 15-person committee that worked closely with the Design Team throughout the duration of the project. Our team met with the Committee 12 times and explored complex urban issues ranging from gentrification and community engagement to bike safety and landscaping strategies. The exchange with the CAC set forth a careful consideration of values— a careful balancing act of historic brick sidewalk preservation, infrastructure repair, ADA accessibility, tree preservation, street parking opportunities, walkability, bike safety, art integration and sustainable infrastructure design. Throughout the project, the team sought a light touch, introducing subtle landscaping strategies and art installations to celebrate what is already special about the street and the neighborhood. The result is a Complete Street proposal that dispenses of formulaic approaches and instead responds sensitively and authentically to the environmental, social, cultural and historic aspects of East 9th Street.

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East 9th Street varies a great deal from block to block and engages a diverse set of urban conditions ranging from downtown density to single family residences to light industrial and mixed-use adaptive re-use. The planning approach entailed a block-by-block analysis of these diverse conditions, and a highly specific response to each block. Sustainable landscaping strategies and a neighborhood-scaled shared path provide continuity from block to block.

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block plan and street section perspective

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block plan and street section perspective

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block plan and perspective rendering

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block plan and street section perspective

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block plan and perspective rendering

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block plan and perspective rendering

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block plan and street section perspective

Our Landscaping Plan introduces native grasses as a historically and regionally sensitive strategy for responsible stormwater management. Little Bluestem, found throughout the Kansas prairie, requires limited irrigation and provides resilient root systems that filter street water run-off.

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Landscape plan diagram

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Stormwater plan diagram

Artists James Woodfill, Jarrett Mellenbruch and Derek Porter were selected as Integrated Artists by a city facilitated selection process. They joined the team and contributed art integration strategies that offer nuance and finesse to the planning process. James Woodfill has introduced a series of subtle signal installations that prompt intuitive and discovery-based connections between East 9th Street and the surrounding neighborhood fabric. Jarrett Mellenbruch has introduced rugged street furniture in a playful arrangement of large rock formations near New York Elementary School and the historic AME church. Derek Porter has proposed a minimal lighting street fixture capable of producing a variety of low level lighting compositions on the ground surface. Each Integrated artist will be working with selected Lawrence-based associate artists as the project unfolds.

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Artist Integration plan diagram

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Signal mock-ups by James Woodfill

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Rock formations by Jarrett Mellenbruch

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Street fixture proposal by Derek Porter

During the next few weeks, the Lawrence City Commission will be reviewing the plan and considering it for approval. We’ve enjoyed working with the Lawrence community a great deal. The project has set forth a series of spirited conversations, debates work sessions, neighborhood walks and celebrations, all exploring the impacts of increased urban density, urban growth, gentrification, new economies, and cultural evolution. East Ninth is far more than a street renovation project. It has become a platform for many voices, together making important decisions about the vital role streets play in the responsible growth of Lawrence, Kansas. Read the full plan here.

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