Militarization of The Ave

by Nick Boyce

Location: The Ave, from 47th to 41st

The Ave (University Way NE) is the commercial core of the University District, attracting college students, bar-hoppers, and visiting academics alike. It is also known its higher-than-average homeless population. Instead of managing the site as a diverse mix of different demographics, the city would rather try to drive the homeless population away. By removing most of the public benches, even ones in bus stops, they are hoping the homeless people won’t hang out because there’s nowhere to sit. However, these “undesirable” people are relatively creative, and inevitably find somewhere to sit or hang out. It is the area’s more affluent and lucrative demographics who are turned off by the lack of public amenities. Ironically, these policies don’t deter the homeless population but do drive away wealthy shoppers to places like the University Village, ultimately making the homeless population on The Ave more visible. Design based on fear, rather than based off of creating dynamic public spaces, leaves The Ave worse for homeless people, students, shoppers, and businesses.

Articles on Los Angeles and New York City show that cities across America are making bad design choices in hopes of deterring the homeless population and other undesirable groups.

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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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