Thursday, September 24, 2009

Start your Engines #4

In the cleanup position is the transportation side of developing downtown and linking it with campus. I propose that we put in a path directly from NDSU to the Downtown campus to promote bicycles and walking. Maybe this could be developed into something more?? What about winter?? What about the bridges it crosses?? All issues that I need to investigate.

Red- path from campus to Barry
Blue- path downtown between buildings

Conclusion- This is a look into the future of this area. WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY, HOW are all questions that i am asking myself and the answers are hard to predict, however, with a little spark that NDSU has started down here why is it so crazy that this district develop into a small version of Minneapolis or Milwaukee downtown (both upper Midwest cities that I like)?? I believe that Fargo has some serious potential and lets face it people are not drawn here because of our majestic scenery or our amazing weather. Lets give people a reason why Fargo is a culturally diverse, unique city that is attractive to anyone.

Start your Engines #3

Batting third would be the site where I am proposing a new student union. This building is currently a business building, but with all the vacant signs that I see downtown I don't see how if they relocated that would be much of a problem. This site is what I am after because of its proximity to Barry Hall and Khli Hall (good for Transportation).

Start your Engines #2

Next batter up is the site located on 3rd ave. from 10th st to 11th st. this is where I am going to put a developer hat and bring out the bulldozer and call this New. This is the site that I am seeing buisnesses and commercial with maybe a small residental on the top. Most likely going to try to move the parking inward and keep the building "thin" because no matter what we want to happen down here, we need parking in this area.

Start your Engines

With this project going on and on lets put on paper what we are talking about. Here are my four most current interesting sites in the "Crosstown" district (Name?) that I want to propose to do "something" with for this semester. There are four categories I-infill, N-new, R-renovate, and T-transportation. OK, here we go

In lead off (also my favorite) sort of a mix between Infill and New it is the site where the current boys ranch is located on 10th street. We will call it Infill because I plan to use existing structure of the site and the bridge. I am seeing so much potential that I dont know where to start. With the 10th st bridge right next to it this building serves as the gateway from the North side of the tracks to downtown zone. This has potiental for residential, commercial and also adding in space for what we are taking away, which is a warehouse and many small buisnesses. Also the site is between the two campuses and offers great views.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Public Spaces

When we are walking up and down downtown streets we have huge street front windows with interesting colorful advertisements, there are cars, bikes, people, (maybe the occasional dog sled in Fargo) and things that give energy to public spaces. However, what are does Fargo have for public entities that other cities have and have become known for (icons). For this blog I would like to suggest that these be instated in the downtown district to improve our urban fabric. However, what the heck are these features and why the heck do i want to spend public money on something like this?? So, here are some suggestions from some places that I have visited and they seem to work.

Define an Urban Square that has only needs for people on foot and can be a multi purpose space. (it would be nice if it could be used in the winter to, Fargo has this season for 6 months
Water, Basic necessity's for humans and a great feature that suggests and encourages people to stop and take a break in the public space.

Trees, These give shade, character, life, and make the city seem more livable.

This is a fountain in Chicago that rethinks a fountain and adds public art to the space at the same time.

This is Sony Center in Berlin that uses the space between buildings as a outdoor plaza then put a tent cover on the outdoor space.

These are the famous Spanish steps in Rome. Here they use a hill to there advantage and have a terraced effect to the public space and also is still functional as a stairway up the hill.

This is Placa Real, Barcelona. This urban space is great because there are night clubs at night, restaurants during the day and plenty of space to put up a stage if need be. Also the walkway around the exterior of the square is all covered and arches, trees and the fountain give it character.

This is a square in front of the old hospital in Barcelona (i don't remember the name). It had short orange trees and a small fountain (that wasn't operational). What I like about this space is that people were everywhere like it was their own backyard.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Questions are an architects tool to find out what the heck we are doing and why we are doing it. So what should we ask the students, residents, business workers, and users of downtown about this place in order to form intelligent and useful decisions downtown Fargo?

1) Where do you live in accordance to downtown?
2) What do you do when you are downtown?
3) If living downtown when do you need to leave in order to find a basic entity and why do you leave?
4) Would you live downtown and commute to campus?
5) What sort of business or need is not addressed in the downtown district?
6) Is the downtown feel secure enough to raise a family?

This is only the tip of the iceberg, but these questions could envoke more questions that the people taking the survey have. So, any other questions would be helpful!!
according to me (even if they sound nuts)

1) Construction of downtown buildings must have at least 50% similar facade materials as the adjacent building.

2) Close Broadway off between 1st and 2nd Ave. after 6pm to foster and promote more pedestrian activity on the street and allow restaurants and shops to set up on the street.

3) Propose a parking ramp where the parking lots are to the east of the civic center in order to open up the parking lot between 2nd and 3rd ave (in front of US bank) in order to develop an outdoor music venue or farmers market.

4) Build a sky way so that you are able to walk the entire downtown from main to 6th ave. Have it open 24/7 so that businesses are more attractive in this venue.

5) In order to solve parking problems build a light rail from osgood area (South Fargo) to Trollwood (North Fargo). With a possible extension to Moorhead or even Dilworth.

6) Build a pet friendly zone in island park in order to accommodate people who have pets.

7) Offer incentives to all commercial vendors (i.e. grocery store, clothes store) so that they can open up there own "mall" in the downtown district and foster a variety of shops downtown.

8) Build a student union downtown that offers campus conveniences such as tuition payment, bookstore, etc.

9) Build a "sidewalk" from NDSU to Downtown NDSU in order to prevent accidents and make it easier for students to walk, bike, rollerblading, or any other non-motor form of commuting.

10) Establish with conjunction with the Fargo planning office and F-M visitors bureau a office that will promote and advertise downtown Fargo to potential residents or commercial entities. This office will directly work with real estate agents, concert promoters, developers, and local businesses so that the downtown is more attractive to all types of people.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Case Study 2- Richmond

This is a nice urban plan in that it is a solution to what the city needs specifically. Jackson Ward is a endagered historic district of the city and was in need of a solution to figure out how to increase development and tourism.

Here is some of the initiative-

Our Philosophy for the Jackson Ward Phase I: (Master plan we are presenting) To build a smooth bridge between "one of the biggest business centers in the City of Richmond" and "One of the 11 Most Endangered Places in the National Trust for Historic Preservation." Create this bridge based on studies, work with representatives of Jackson Ward neighborhood, the RRHA, The City of Richmond, and Richmond business leaders. "The Historic Jackson Ward neighborhood has been one of America's most vibrant African-American districts, once bursting with the sounds of jazz and prosperity." Jazz is an international language and can provide communication for all walks of life, and we chose this language to influence our design efforts.

What to learn

By using an existing feature of this place (jazz music) they were able to not only develop and attraction, but add on more infustructure so that other needs of the area were addressed. When there is development of multi-use buildings it is approprate to realize that in the future there will be a need for new uses or functions so the architecture can respond by adding in spaces that otherwise might not have been built or in a certin way.

All found at

Case Study 1- Portland

The city of Portland is one of the most progressive cities in the northwest. This city is has a group called the Portland Development Commission that has the initive to make this place into a great place to live for its citizens. Here a few plans that they have initated into there city.

We finance and develop multi-family housing for a variety of income levels throughout the city. We also provide single family home purchase and home repair loans to help stabilize neighborhoods and keep people in their homes.

Neighborhood Revitalization
PDC realizes healthy neighborhoods and neighborhood businesses are the backbone of a great city. We work with residents, business owners, owners of rental housing and nonprofit organizations to increase affordable housing and small businesses in the city to keep neighborhoods active and vibrant. This involves taking areas of the city that are distressed and providing market analysis, district planning, developing opportunity strategies and site planning to spruce them up. PDC develops housing, retail, office and other projects. We help bring together the public/private partners needed to accomplish projects. We help find the financial resources needed too.

Business Retention, Expansion and Recruitment
PDC offers a full range of direct and indirect assistance to businesses looking to expand or locate in the Portland area. This may include business loans or assistance in locating the right site for a business expansion or relocation. We also work to keep local businesses and jobs here. We provide small business loan programs and local incentives for locating businesses and jobs in target areas.



Basically this group has identified some districts and uses standards and finacial backing to make the proposals happen. They have not only gone the distance to identify problems and come up with solutions, but they have also came up with solutions to borrow money that are feasible.


Before After

This is a concept: looks a little cheasey and they are trying to get bonus points by putting a bus in the rendering, but they are putting positive green aspects into the city scape.

This can all be found at:


The main momentum behind this blog would be the downtown district of Fargo and how it is growing and developing specifically. With a relationship between a few aggressive developers and NDSU moving into a few buildings the once forgotten and unattractive downtown is changing into a interesting environment. So, with this change it is crucial to have a standard of design and construction at a level that will not only encourage more development, but a lasting impact into the future.
As a student of the built environment a plan that institutes and identifies good urban design will cause the city to have lasting and meaningful growth. Fargo is not the only city that is dealing with these sorts of issues because an increase of urban population has been an epidemic throughout the U.S. for many years now. I will post a few case studies and see where the issues of downtown development, university campus sprawl, and urban design will take me.