Fort Collins Streetscape

International Competition Finalist

This urban design proposes a new type of public space through a hybrid approach to urban landscape design for the citizens of Ft. Collins. The experiential and programmatic qualities of a linear park, the circulation and social dynamics of a promenade plus the economic and catalytic potential of pedestrian malls are combined to create an innovative civic landscape typology.

 The engine of the design is a modular kit-of-parts inspired by the mechanics of the famous 1980’s video game Tetris created by Alexey Pajitnov and Vladimir Pokhilko. A module of 40’ is employed throughout the design to maintain spatial and visual rhythm while the borrowed “Tetris” mechanics allow for an infinite range of design possibilities. This sliding orthogonal geometry embeds the scheme with an inherent level of flexibility and references cardinal organization structure or “sectioning” of the American west created by the Land Ordinance of 1785. The design which incorporates 17 large existing canopy trees aims to capitalize on the close proximity to Colorado State University, the downtown core, and location within the Mason Street transportation spine. The design proposes that bike lanes are separated from vehicular traffic and located alongside expanded pedestrian sidewalks. This urban design move is predicated on the fact that the average person walks at 3.1 mph and bikes 10 mph (a difference of 6.9 mph) while cars weighing two tons of glass and steel are moving at 25mph (a difference of 15 mph). This conclusion suggests that bike lanes and pedestrians could be a safer, friendlier, and more natural pair when possible. This heightened concentration of movement and activity integrated into its urban context is also intended to draw people to the site and help establish a critical mass of citizens that will activate future economic development. Micro plazas occur within this matrix creating opportunities for spill-out space for adjacent building program such as café seating, impromptu and organized outdoor performances as well as contemporary spaces for temporary program such as farmers’ markets, art fairs, food trucks, semi-permanent cafes, and for seasonal events. An original mosaic of sustainable black and white granite inspired by Native American fabric design gives this exciting new urban place a distinctive visual identity and sense of place. This composition of stone is further refined by stretching the patchwork to create liner strips in perspective that compliments the grain of movement. These dramatic stone strips coupled with the 16’ long linear benches are indented to reference the millions of 16’ long steel segments needed to build the railroad that helped create Ft. Collins during the Railroad Era. The net effect emphasizes the linear character of the site, encourages proper multimodal circulation, and creates a dynamic large-scale visual rhythm understood at a range of speeds; walking, running, bicycling, hover-boarding, segwaying, bussing, traveling in a car, hot-air- balloon, or passing airplane. Sidewalks and bike lanes are framed by shifting “ecological swaths” of groves of native trees and high-performance bioswales that clean stormwater enhance biodiversity, create natural habitat, and increase the linear feet of ecological edge by over 450%. These aerial hedgerows of native trees (limbed at 6’ to maintain views) are planted with the density one often finds in a healthy forest. This unique urban planting typology is designed to complement the large existing canopy trees and help shape the visual identity of this new urban destination. Though organized around the current existing conditions and constraints of this competition, the intent of the design involves a forward-looking strategy that can anticipate new buildings, temporary and permanent programming, and opportunities sparked by the implementation of the Active Tracks vision.
Location Fort Collins, Colorado Size 13.4 acres Type Streetscape Design/ Linear Park Design Team Counts Studio, Lead Designer