Downtown Pedestrian Environment Improvements

The Urban Design Center and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development held an Urban Design Studio on July 17, 2012. This studio, was the first in a series of public events intended to cultivate resident engagement on a specific topic. Each Urban Design Studio will focus on a different topic.

Studio Focus
The focus of this 1st studio was to improve the pedestrian experience along the Blackwell, Corcoran, and Foster Streets corridor. More than 40 people participated in issue identification exercises and worked in teams to develop solutions and ideas to address those issues for this well used corridor. To view each teams’ work, please click the links below.

While each team developed a unique set of solutions to the issues identified, several common themes were apparent, including improvements to sidewalks, expansion of the downtown streetscapes throughout this corridor, and enhancing the connections between nodes using vertical elements, such as sculpture, interesting Durham historical artifacts, or wayfinding devices.

Studio Recommendations
Moving forward with the solutions from the Urban Design Studio, staff will develop a staggered implementation and funding strategy, based on common themes. The recommendations from the Studio include:
  • A near-term effort to improve or repair the existing sidewalks along the corridor, including filling in missing sidewalk gaps in the northern portion of the corridor; establishing a delineated, paved pedestrian path to cross the railroad; and lighting the Liberty Arts Pavilion and the Leaf at Durham Central Park.
  • A mid-term goal to install the downtown streetscape treatment along the corridor, including the upgraded sidewalks, street light fixtures, street trees, benches and trash receptacles.
  • In the long term, to hold a design competition for vertical elements that would visually connect the corridor.
Along each step, staff would work to include these solutions into current local projects, such as the Downtown Open Space Plan.

Summary of Team Proposals
  • Team A (PDF): Enhanced at-grade pedestrian crossing for the railroad, and an overpass pedestrian connector linking the Five Points alley with the north parking deck of the American Tobacco Campus.
  • Team B (PDF): Provide interest along the corridor with layers of light, visually interesting nodes along the corridor, and buildings or other elements that frame the street.
  • Team C (PDF): Connect the corridor though improved intersections, improve safety for pedestrians by improving the railroad crossing, provide street lighting along the Foster Street portion of the corridor, provide unified signage/wayfinding, provide incremental interest to draw pedestrians through the corridor.
  • Team D (PDF): Activate the streetscape by using benches, public art, street lights, infill and housing. Improve the at-grade pedestrian crossing over the railroad and eliminate Ramseur Street at the intersection with Corcoran Street.
  • Team E (PDF): “The Food Trail” - Entice pedestrian movement along the corridor by promoting restaurants and food vendors through lighting, signage, and visual connections. Improve the pedestrian crossing over the railroad with platforms.
  • Team F (PDF): Provide rest stops with water, shade, art and seating for pedestrians and bicyclists along the corridor. Provide uniform crosswalk markings throughout the corridor.