CityLab Open Design Competition
Project Name: Deviant Block
Completion: 2008 entry
WPA 2.0 is an open design competition organized by UCLA’s cityLab and inspired by the Depression-era Works Projects Administration. This proposal offers an innovative, implementable way to place infrastructure at the heart of rebuilding America’s changing cities and, at the same time, strengthening communities and revitalizing our metropolitan areas.
Most urban areas are organized in grids designed to offer maximum movement for automobiles and restricted movement for pedestrians, which was necessary as people moved to the suburbs. But urban needs are changing as people return to downtown living.
This Deviant Block design designates streets for people, instead of cars, without destroying the street grid itself. Rather, it proposes to create superblocks in non-peak traffic periods for free pedestrian movement while traffic that normally uses that area is diverted. When traffic increases, theses superblocks can easily be reopened.
The promising result: Urbanites leave their buildings to participate in events staged within the deviant block, bringing new life to city streets and city neighborhoods. The design promotes local programs for residents of the immediate area and attracts visitors from beyond. These superblocks serve as a counterweight in a city grid that no longer balances movement and space, permanence and transience.
[designed while at Architecture Design Office]