Article 2: The Creative Corridor

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Introduction

The Creative Corridor retrofits a four-block segment of an endangered downtown Main Street through economic development catalyzed by the cultural arts rather than Main Street’s traditional retail base. The goal is to structure an identity for the Creative Corridor rooted in a mixed-use working and living environment anchored by the arts.

033Description of the context

the center of Little Rock had lost its human scale and historic activities, was full of empty plots. The city has a population of 195000 inhabitants and the street is completely owned by the cars.

PREVIUSTo solve the problems and propose an urban proposal is convened an open competition. “Main Street became to America what the piazza was to Italy”

The challenge involves restructuring a public realm conceived for workaday commercial activities to now serve 24/7 urban lifestyles with a high level of livability. The project approach employs four developmental phases in the corridor’s transformation to a downtown node. Nodes provide a sense of centrality and opportunity for social life that counters the dominance of mobility in corridors.

COMPETITION

Specific recommendations were more towards things like “choking” the street to slow traffic and allow for more pedestrian space and creating public plazas for events.

Retrofit strategies entail right-of-way reconfigurations accommodating streetcar rail transit as well as pedestrian-oriented streetscapes and townscaping structures that frame a new land-use ecology of residential, tourism, work, and the cultural arts. An additional challenge regards the compatibility between proposed larger infill buildings using curtain wall technologies and early 20th century commercial buildings fashioned from the expressive order of brick and stone. To ensure coherence among different eras of development, design solutions rely on the urbanism of streetscapes—landscape architecture, ecological engineering, public space configurations, frontage systems, and miscellaneous assemblages.

The Creative Corridor Plan is premised on the aggregation of cultural organizations scattered throughout Little Rock. Some of these groups exist at the financial margins and their ongoing viability increases through new synergies common to aggregation. Facilities slated to anchor the Creative Corridor include instruction and production space for the symphony, ballet, arts center, visual artists, theater, and dance, as well as a culinary arts economy that triangulates restaurants, demonstration, and education. Despite adaptive reuse challenges to residential, large-format office, and cultural production functions, the Creative Corridor generates niche value from the reclamation of a heritage environment whose exceptional place-making qualities cannot be replicated.063

The plan was designed to be implemented incrementally as political will and private funding allows.

Chronological Development 

  • The first proposed phase is to “create gateways” that set the district off from the rest of Main Street and downtown, including using architectural pavement, special landscaping and unique lighting (one idea is to collect old city street lights into a “light garden” art installation).

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  • The second is to “develop a center” at Capitol and Main streets with a large public plaza they imagine would include an outdoor amphitheater and a giant Times Square-style LED screen along the edge of a skyscraper they think should be the same size or larger than the Stephens Building and include a roof garden. Obviously, this is the most pie-in-the-sky part of the plan.

Much of the concept also focuses on the use of lighting at night to create an atmosphere that makes Main Street an attractive destination 24 hours a day.

MURALS

Public art, such as murals, can be an integral part of any streetscape. Murals can depict the history, culture, and hopes of a city or neighborhood. Designing and creating a mural can engage different parts of the community, including building owners and developers, students, educators, artists, scientists, historians, and tourists. A mural can also turn a blank wall facing the street from an unused space that offers little of interest to passersby into an amenity that beautifies the street and adds to the neighborhood’s sense of identity014201510161

  • The third phase involves “thickening the edge” of Main Street with trees, rain garens and terraces and creating a pedestrian promenade.01810191043
  • The fourth is to create a transit district with a trolley route (per Metroplan’s scheduled trolley expansion plan) and designated bike “boulevards” on Louisiana and Scott.

Key lessons

  •  GETTING CLOSER THE ASSOCIATIONS AND SHARING THEIR ACTIVITY. (economical, social, and cultural strategy)

The city of Little Rock has been investing in its local economic, environmental, and civic sustainability by revitalizingKey neighborhoods which lost much of its downtown business to suburban sprawl.

Focusing onKey activity centers along the corridor, the redesign highlights the impact that new pocket parks and reuse of vacant parking lots could have on encouraging future redevelopment and more pedestrian activity to support ground-floor retail and a future trolley line.

  • PROMOTING MIXED USES IN TRANSPORTATION. (economical and environmental strategy)

Successes and Failures

Nodes provide a sense of centrality and opportunity for social life that counters the dominance of mobility in corridors . The associations have more facilities to show what they do and communicate with each others.

However is necessary the economic support of the council to start the project.

References:

http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2012/12/12/little-rock-unveils-creative-corridor-plan

http://www.arkansasbusiness.com/article/86874/little-rocks-main-street-redevelopment-on-fast-track

http://www.epa.gov/dced/pdf/GAC_LittleRock_low.pdf

http://www.aymag.com/November-2013/Downtown-the-Place-to-be/index.php?cparticle=3&siarticle=2

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