The time-lapse video at the bottom is the view from the new Healthful City Design Studio windows overlooking Founder's Square at 5th and Muhammad Ali Blvd. Over the next several months, while we are downtown, we are going to study the use of the park and other public spaces. Interestingly, this square is one of the only large green spaces in downtown aside from Waterfront Park.
In the following figure-ground map below (roughly bounded by the river to the north, Broadway to the south, 9th street to the west, and Preston Street to the east) we only highlighted green spaces that are accessible by the public and designed to be park-like amenities. There are a number of places where there is grass around buildings or the expressway that don't show up on this map because they are not meant to be places to congregate and enjoy. As you can see, we have a long way to go to bring natural pubic spaces into the city. Arguable the spaces we do have don't function as well as they could, which is something else we want to better understand.
Just from looking out the window every day for the past two weeks we start to see some patterns of use of Founder's Square, such as people walking their dogs or others simply cutting through the park on their way from points beyond. Maybe we need a dog park downtown if we want more residents to move downtown? Just a thought. We have a lot of underutilized surface lots that could be great places to prototype this idea. We have seen examples of dog parks over surface lots like this one in Chattanooga.
Well designed parks are not only great amenities for people living and experiencing urban settings, but studies have shown they can also have positive economic impacts for the properties around them.
We are looking forward to learning more about Founder's Square and other public areas downtown that have latent potential. The Healthful City Design Studio is about testing ideas around the design of our cities. With that in mind, we will be sharing ideas from a variety of people and perspectives as well as concepts and observations in the Field Notes to come. This effort is meant to spur more ideas and discussions, less about having a final plan and polished graphics and more about rapid iteration and ideation at this point in the process. We look forward to exploring with you!