Garrett Rock

ARCHITECT
As featured on Archdaily.

FIRST PRIZE, Site Two
April 2013



Lafayette, like many mid-sized American cities, is losing a young and highly-educated creative class of millennials. These children of baby boomers raised most often in a suburban condition are seeking out stimulation brought about by more walkable cities defined by their streetlife. According to market research, sixty-four percent of college-educated millennials choose the city they wish to reside first and then seek jobs; seventy-seven percent of these individuals choose to live in the urban core.

New Acadia is a response to a growing demand for pedestrian-friendly and self-sufficient neighborhoods within Lafayette’s urban core. By creating a layering of diverse programs over the site, the neighborhood is used more evenly and efficiently. Local residents can benefit from reduced travel times by commuting closer and spending less money on transportation.

Convent Street is closed to car traffic between Johnston Street and Lee Avenue; it becomes a promenade for pedestrians and bikers to permeate across the site. The blocks between Main Street and Jefferson Street are divided between north and south to create an open axis that becomes the heart of the new neighborhood. Street lanes are narrowed to twelve feet to slow drivers down and a dedicated two-way bike lane is introduced on Johnston Street linking the site with ULL’s campus.

The neighborhood is designed around self-sufficiency and multiplicity of program. Retail and restaurants occupy the ground floor while housing, offices, and institutions constitute the upper floors; three to five story buildings replace current single story structures to increase density in a site appropriate manner. A variation in housing types, from micro-unit studio apartments aimed at college-aged students to three-story town homes geared toward families, ensures the neighborhood’s diversity of user groups.

The network of interstitial space created leaves an exceptional situation for urbanism to materialize. The streetscape is arranged around a series of public spaces, or nodes, that act as hubs of interconnected informal social spaces that mediate between home and work. The landscape and site elements are arranged in rows; this module of continuous variation provides a cohesive language for site organization. Finally, the site accommodates all modes of transportation to act seamlessly together in hopes that resides will opt to walk and bike more safely and efficiently.

Previously on exhibition at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette, LA from April 13 through May 2.



EXISTING SITE CONDITION
Downtown Lafayette, Louisiana


SITE PLAN/SECTION OF PROPOSED DESIGN




I. SITE CONSIDERATIONS + ASSUMPTIONS

Left/ The site straddles the trajectory between downtown Lafayette and the University of Louisiana’s ULL Campus. Exploit the location.

Center/ The site is less than a quarter-mile wide which translates to a five minute walk from one end to the other. Exploit the compact nature of the site.

Right/ Like many American cities, the retail core of Lafayette has expanded along arterial roads and far flung expanses of the city’s periphery. Exploit recentralization of amenities.


II. SITE INTERVENTIONS

Left/ Convent Street is closed to car-traffic between Johnston Street and Lee Avenue creating a pedestrian promenade.

Right/ Blocks are divided north to south creating an open axis for foot traffic.



Left/ Existing street network (gray) overlayed onto proposed (black); street lanes are narrowed to twelve-feet and street parking is added along arterial roads.

Right/ Proposed open-block pedestrian and biker zones.


III. MIXED-USE PROGRAM DISTRIBUTION

The neighborhood is designed to be self-sufficient and mixed-use. The ground floor is occupied by a series of public restaurants and retail while the upper floors contain housing, offices, and institutions. A diversity in housing types and programs assures that the site is used more evenly.


IV. POPULATING THE URBANISM


NODES/
A way of prioritizing public space by creating a network of interconnected hubs of streetlife and informal gathering. The city should be designed to connect public spaces as a continuum.

FLOWS/
A way of accommodating all modes of transportation to work seamlessly together. The city should not be designed around the car but rather the individual.

ROWS/
A way of organizing the streetscape in modules of continuously diverse landscapes, infrastructure, and architecture; the row recalls the vernacular agriculture of the region. The city should be designed as a cohesive system with a coherent language.



Journal