If you live or hang-out downtown and wanted to get from happening Eastown areas like Jefferson or Milwaukee Street to the Third Ward, you’ve probably considered what a pain finding parking in the Third Ward makes your drive and how you didn’t really want to spend $10 bucks on a cab to just go four or five blocks, you’re just not that high-end.
For regular old downtown folk, walking or biking secures the first option but are you ever all that thrilled about going through the narrow Jefferson Street pedestrian tunnel or crossing the expanse of mostly dark empty parking lots? Now you can have your say. A major opportunity to influence how Downtown looks got under way this fall, and what better time to start a new project than the respite the Holiday Season brings most busy worker bees.
Build an Idea
The Historic Third Ward Association opened a public design competition, titled Brighten the Passage, to solicit ideas on how the pedestrian facilities connecting the Downtown to the Third Ward could be improved. On windy day in late August, Brighten the Passage kicked-off with a design charette. The fun of accepting complete proposals is now underway.
The window for Brighten the Passage submissions closes February 29, 2011 and the guidelines get straight to the point: develop a practical and cost-effective way to make the underpass more hospitable to pedestrians in a way that will support business activity and vibrant Nightlife entertainment.
Additional considerations for the project include the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s plans for considerable maintenance of the overpass in 2013 and that overhead space on Broadway Street may be used for the proposed Downtown Street Car.
Luckily for Milwaukeeans, decision-makers are paying attention to the need for a City be a place of human experiences and not just a track for cars to race people to work. Fortunately the Mayor’s office is tuning-in to the growing awareness that cities are integral part of local and regional economies and that they are no longer are competing locally for business but internationally. Documentarian Gary Hustwit recently released a film Urbanized that gives an excellent overview of the historical and current international discourse on urban design.
The City’s Downtown Plan considers doing something about the underpass a catalytic project, which makes Connecting the Passage a very big opportunity for an ambitious architect or engineer and especially for urban planners. Here’s more about Connecting the Passage Design Competition’s full guidelines and submission instructions.