Smoking Ban Activates the Urban Landscape

by Riisa Conklin

Location: various

#1. Beacon Pub

#2. Maharaja

#3. Finn MacCool’s

#4. Cha Cha Lounge

#5. The Bus Stop

#6. Alley Behind Atlas Clothing

#7. Linda’s

#8. The Wild Rose

Seattle’s nighttime personality has dramatically changed since the smoking ban of 2005. It quite literally pushed people out of their interior hideaways and onto the city streets. The places for movement in, out and along are now becoming places where people stop, stay and socialize.

Initiative 901 passed overwhelmingly in November 2005, requiring Seattle’s public places and workplaces to be entirely smoke free. The law also prohibits smoking within 25 feet of the doorways, windows and air intakes of these protected places. The implications of this new law are particularly interesting in terms of how it has manifested itself in the urban landscape, immediately transforming the sidewalks, alleys and otherwise static places into a new active terrain.

Some business owners have responded to the ban with new amenities for their smoking clientele. For example, in an effort to offer a sense of comfort for the smokers, the Stumbling Monk on E. Olive Way provides moveable seating and ashtrays on its sidewalk. Some businesses have even built exterior structures that extend 25 feet from their back door complete with landscaping and heat lamps like Linda’s on E Pine and The Beacon Hill Pub on Beacon Ave. S.

I documented smokers in the Capitol Hill and University District and Downtown neighborhoods on both weekday and weekend nights who, despite their grumblings of the ban, generally agreed that they run into more people and engage in more conversations due to the change.

Seattle Public Market

by Margaret Chang

Location: everywhere

The Public Market of Seattle is not located on 3rd Avenue and Pike Place but on the streets of Seattle. The main purpose of streets is to carry automotive traffic throughout the city; however, people have found an alternative use for the streets. Everyday, people use public streets as an informal market place for goods and services. Used cars and “apartment for rent” signs with hand lettering can be found parked on major city streets. The generic appearance of the “for rent/sale” signs and the hand lettering indicates that the people using the streets to market goods are not professional retailers. Despite this fact, these people have capitalized on the opportunity to use major public city streets as “storefronts”. The street is rent free, has high visibility, and can be utilized that any time of day. However, buyers may find the use of the street as a “storefront” difficult to navigate. Since the street is not a defined market place, goods and signage are not limited to one location nor are sellers obligated to place their goods in a single place for a designated period of time. Used cars for sale can wander up and down the street; for rent signs can appear and disappear overnight.

craigslist, a virtual landscape of exchange

 

by Karen Kennedy

Location: 450+ sites in 50+ countries accessed anytime, anywhere

craigslist (www.craigslist.org) is a worldwide phenomenon that has dramatically altered the way people socialize, conduct business and fulfill their needs and desires. It began with a simple goal: “to provide a trustworthy, efficient, relatively non-commercial place for folks to find all the basics in their local area.” It is a fascinating virtual landscape of exchange linking complimentary natures across time and distance.

Since its creation, craigslist has expanded to over 450 location-specific pages in 50+ countries. Collectively, over fifteen million people use the sites every month, generating more than five billion page views. What works for people? The site’s simplicity, consistency, freshness and commercial-free, down-to-earth atmosphere of “trust and intimacy”. Most importantly, the site restores the human voice to the internet by transferring power to the ordinary person.

A social network, a marketplace, and an outlet for personal expression, craigslist can be considered “a multidimensional collage of the [urban] landscape”. It is an often ‘taken for granted’ everyday space that has been quietly yet intricately woven into the fabric of the community”. It is an infrastructure of empowerment and a true “narrative of cultural identity” that tells a remarkable story of virtual exchange in the urban experience.

 

 

Roosevelt Renascence

by Loc Tran

Location: 1410 NE 66th St, Seattle, WA 98115

Roosevelt High School is the largest school in Seattle and has one of the strongest academic programs in Washington. However, like all schools set urban contexts, the surrounding neighborhood has decayed over time. This once-thriving area must now contend with a rising rate of drugs, crime, and violence. All is not lost, though. There are large and small-scale efforts for urban renewal and while there the progress of a full community revival is slow, the residents and the local merchants are doing what they can in order to take keep the neighborhood’s identity alive and well. From shop windows to wall murals, every move taken by these locals is an attempt to carve out their niche in the space in order to improve the experience of the region. Though some are quite explicit, many of these things have become so commonplace that they are subtle gestures to the passerby. Nonetheless, they impact the students, the residents, and the thousands of drivers and pedestrians that pass through every day in their own ways.

Transit at the Junction

by Miao-Mei Pasutti

Location: SW Alaska St. + California Ave SW, Seattle, Washington 98116

 

What is ‘the urban,’ the urban is not a certain population, a geographic size, or a collection of buildings. This case study explores the information behind a bus shelter located in West Seattle by looking around at the benches, trash cans, ads, paintings on the shelter, the bus stops, the bus schedules and transfer tickets. These micro-scale streetscapes reveal landscapes of power in historical, urban and cultural contexts, which surrounds in our everyday life that is difficult to decode due to its fundamental ambiguity.

Everyday Urbanism is non-utopian or atopian, conversational, and non-structuralist. It is non-utopian because it celebrates and builds on everyday, ordinary life and reality, with little pretense about the possibility of a perfectible, tidy or ideal built environment.

Form and function are seen to be connected in a very loose way that highlights culture more than design as a determinant of behavior. Vernacular and street architecture in vibrant, ethnic neighborhoods are held up as one instructive model or a point of departure.

Just An Exit Away

by Lexter Tapawan

Location: 800 NE 65th St, Seattle 98115

Initially, I wanted to mainly focus my case study on bus stops throughout the university. After the second assignment, one of the TA’s suggested a particular espresso stand located near 8th and Roosevelt. I decided to check the place out and it was actually a perfect place to conduct my study. For one thing, it had “bus stop” which I wanted to focus on from the beginning, and second, it was a small enough area that a can conduct a thorough research of the given space.

The site I visited was located near the I-5 bridge and a carpool parking area. The site seems to accommodate the community around it which consists of various types of neighborhoods. Looking around, one will notice the variety of possible visitors to the site and possibly visitors who come to the espresso shop on a daily basis. I read some reviews online and one customer mentioned that even thought the shop is near a freeway, the shop somehow makes the whole experience work. She also mentioned that she often buys from the shop every time she visits her dentist, located just across the street.

As mentioned by the reviewer, though the site is located near a freeway, the addition of a back porch with some vegetation seemed to equal some of the negativity in the particular space by simply providing some sort of “comfort area” for people to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. One may conclude that having an espresso stand by the freeway may not be such a bad idea since people on the freeway can simply take the exit and grab a quick cup of coffee then head on their way.

Crosswalk: Urban Bridge

by Dave Marshall

Location: 25th Ave NE and NE Blakely St.

The crosswalk at the South end of the 25th and Blakely intersection spans four lanes of traffic, two northbound and two southbound. These four lanes comprise a major arterial between the University district and parts northward. This crosswalk is a part of the Burke-Gilman trail, a pedestrian, rollerblade, and bicycle thoroughfare. The intersection is controlled by a four-way signal with crossing signals.

The surrounding land uses include a 24 hour convenience store, gas station, two restaurants, a hotel, and the public trail. The general location of the crosswalk is immediately north of a retail district. Two bus stops are sited near the crossing, one northbound and southbound, servicing all the way from Bothell through the south end of the University district.

The immediate area is usually populated by nearby residents or visitors to the restaurants or hotel. Trail traffic passes through often, especially at peak commute hours. The traffic consists mostly of packs of bicycles moving at high speed. In the summer season recreational traffic along the trail increases due to nicer weather. The primary users of the bus stops are University students traveling to and from campus.

Few impromptu and unprogrammed activities take place, though one does primarily in the summer and include a fruit stand on the east side of the crosswalk. Other than that there is little space for activities other than those planned for the space.


Micro Urbanism

The term “micro-urbanism” describes small-scale urban spaces and design interventions that enable a wide variety of activities, events, processes and functions to take place. It also involves ways to reinterpret the urban landscape. As a class project, the purpose for creating this Guide is to bring attention to aspects of our everyday environment that are important but often neglected parts of the urban experiences.

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