New York City-based field operations was widely seen as the flashier of the two leading contenders for the contract to overhaul more than 20 acres of waterfront space when the Alaskan Way Viaduct comes down […]
During his public presentation last week, Corner—a native of Manchester—said he wanted to integrate the waterfront’s “gritty” industrial feel into his waterfront design. “We found the work James Corner did to be compelling and relevant to the waterfront,” said SDOT central waterfront project manager Steve Pearce.
JCFO is probably best known for designing New York City’s Highline, and has a history of delivering beautiful and innovative urban park projects. We hope they do something great with the waterfront once the Viaduct is torn down.
We continue to question how an unactivated section of town is going to be activated by just a park. Jane Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, wrote in the early sixties that urban parks that aren’t surrounded by diverse uses will inevitably have problems; they are “volatile places.” A park along the waterfront may face these problems if the only commercial activity along its edges are daytime tourist traps — every Cal Anderson needs its Capitol Hill, after all. PubliCola asked about commercial development, and the response isn’t great:
Asked whether the city’s current waterfront “guiding principles”—which say that city-owned land that will be opened up on the waterfront must remain public—will inhibit development (and effectively force the design team to propose a linear park), DPD director Diane Sugimura said, “That’s one of the challenges: How do you make this a real urban area for all the people of the city … and something that’s not just a big park.” However, Sugimura said, “At this point we’re not looking at private development per se,” although the waterfront design could include things like pavilions with restaurants inside.
Perhaps a pavilion for all the quality restaurants that want to sit on city-owned property? Right.
Unless the city, and JCFO, recognizes that people must live, work, and play on the waterfront for it to really click, the waterfront will no doubt be visually impressive but still fall short.