NEWS

Looping Public Health into Yesler Terrace's Streetscapes

Located at intersections and along a continuous loop, activity zones like the one shown in this schematic plan, will provide residents with opportunities to recreate while exploring their neighborhood and contributing to vibrant street life.

Located at intersections and along a continuous loop, activity zones like the one shown in this schematic plan, will provide residents with opportunities to recreate while exploring their neighborhood and contributing to vibrant street life.

As designers and planners continue to recognize the health impacts that our built environment has on human populations, new strategies are being deployed to create places where the "healthy choice is the easy choice." This is particularly important for communities where, due to socioeconomic circumstances, the public health odds are already stacked against residents. In Seattle, SvR and the rest of the design and development team behind Seattle Housing Authority's (SHA's) Yesler Terrace redevelopment were keenly aware of these challenges, and promoted "healthy eating and active living (HEAL)" opportunities throughout the design process. 

In early discussions with SHA and the design team, nonprofit organizations and public health officials discussed Yesler Terrace’s cultural diversity, affordability, and high populations of senior and child residents, emphasizing the importance of active spaces to help combat health issues like obesity and diabetes. All stakeholders agreed that the existing parks’ sizes and programming did not meet the needs of the anticipated population of the neighborhood. The Green Street Loop, a 1/2-mile circuit that links three pocket parks to a larger neighborhood park, helps fill this gap by creating a visible and cohesive pathway to neighborhood destinations. The Loop also became an important platform for meeting the neighborhoods' public health goals.

Eight activity zones are identified in gold stars along the 1/2-mile Green Street Loop (in green) at Yesler Terrace.

Eight activity zones are identified in gold stars along the 1/2-mile Green Street Loop (in green) at Yesler Terrace.

Activity stations contain fitness equipment such as Kompan's Complete Body Toner.

Activity stations contain fitness equipment such as Kompan's Complete Body Toner.

In addition to enhanced pedestrian amenities, larger trees and public art along the Loop, there are 8 "activity zones," each with at least one fitness station and a bench. The activity zones are equally distributed along the Loop, and the fitness equipment at each zone was selected to accommodate a range of ages and skill levels to make it easier for everyone to engage in healthy activity. From pull up bars to sit up benches to free runners, the activities provided offer a complete workout and encourage circulating around the neighborhood. 

The Loop was not only designed for physical health, but also to encourage a vibrant public realm that promotes economic development, increases safety by inviting more eyes on the street and breaks the cycle of social isolation that can beset recent immigrants and the elderly. Also arrayed around the Loop and throughout Yesler Terrace's streets are "pause places," which provide space to pull off the main path of travel to sit, lean, park a bike, wait for public transportation or catch one’s breath while navigating the steep terrain. Pause places are smaller than the activity zones, but are offered more frequently - approximately every 100 feet - on both sides of the street.

Creating a public realm that promotes physical activity will not only serve Yesler Terrace residents. Creating a socially and physically active streetscape could prove a powerful prescription for public health practitioners as our nation searches for ways to make preventative health care a daily part of our lives.

Bell Street Park Art + Activation Plan: First Open House

BellSPArtActivationOpenHouse

With the recently renovated Bell Street Park, between First and Fifth Avenues, the community is excited to activate the space and make it their own. There were several successful events this summer, among them the Out to Lunch Series and Belltown Crush Party, and the community would like to see more. The next task is to identify ways in which users of the Park would like to see the streetscape enlivened and used to its full capabilities through inspired programming, art interventions and events.

Stakeholders kicked off this project with the first of three open houses at the Belltown Community Center on Monday evening, with cheese and wine and a lot of great ideas from members of the community! Jane Savard (Project Manager, Friends of Bell Street Park) introduced the stakeholders and welcomed everyone, and Nate Cormier (Principal in Charge, SvR) and Amanda Bailey (Project Manger, SvR) described the street/park design and engaged a dialogue about the process of gathering input via idea boards, a map of Bell Street Park, and comment cards to catch ideas in a variety of formats. There was a high level of energy and positive attitudes as ideas were pondered and shared around the room! Thanks to all who contributed!

If you would like to provide ideas or keep tabs on the progress of this project, you can go to the Friends of Bell Street Park website: bellstreetpark.com.

First Look: Hing Hay Park

IMG_2689

Over the last several months, we've been collaborating with Kongjian Yu and his Beijing-based firm, Turenscape, on the design of an expanded Hing Hay Park in Seattle's Chinatown-International District. Last night, the final conceptual design was shared with the public, which you can see here. Over the coming months, we'll be developing the design and securing permits for construction in late 2014.