[Urban Design and Study, Buffalo, NY]
The functions of streets have been diminished by the emphasis of car accessibility and a motorized society, and it was often forgotten that streets as a part of the neighborhood and are used for a variety of purposes including not designated ones.
The debate in relationship between urban physical environment and its social condition is more or less like the question in chicken or the egg. With the shrinking population and decaying business, downtown Buffalo is suffering from deterioration of the social fabric of the city, yet meanwhile the physical barrier and badly designed built environment are accelerating the downfall of this once Queen City of New York. As one major element of urban built environment, street is a physical and social part of community life, and used simultaneously for vehicular movement, social interaction, and civic activities. A complete street is defined as a living street not just for motorized transportation but also for pedestrians and cyclists in local community. The quality of a street is not only evaluated by accessibility and mobility, but also based on its character and cohesive streetscapes.
As a main axis for the City of Buffalo with proximity to downtown core, waterfront view and great historical heritage, Niagara Street used to be a place of street life and corridor of prosperity, but nowadays only utilized to facilitate vehicular traffic with on concern of residential livability. Major issues include poor accessibility to waterfront, lack of public space, bad physical condition, and no sense of community domain. To response such issues from perspective in urban design, there are strategies in four dimensions:
Linear: redesign a shared street integrating pedestrian activity and vehicular mobility
Site: reclaim residue space as public domain to establish social milieu
Node: improved intersections with safer crossing
Loops: circulation with bike lane, walkway, greenway and water front promenade
By organizing various movement patterns, trails, greenways and public space as a coherent street, the proposal aims to create a better circulation in this area to enhance connectivity of surrounding area and accessibility to the water.