Saturday, March 20, 2010
Artistic Character along Second Avenue and Bell Street
The sufferings, strength and identity of any place can be discovered though the expression of public art. Belltown, commonly identified as an eclectic residential/commercial area, has experienced a rocky history throughout development but has none the less evolved. This evolution is evident from significant events, such as the Denny Regrade (1897-1930), followed by an economic depression (1930s), the World’s Fair in 1961 and currently faces the most influential event of shaping its identity, increased density, redevelopment and gentrification.
Since early January 2010, I explored Second Avenue and Bell Street on weekend photography and sketching excursions. I observed how people interacted artistically with the urban environment (16), and the placement of apartments and businesses that have made Belltown their home. However, the most interesting feature I discovered were the little things; textures, signage, sculpture, graffiti, old murals and new advertisements. The colors and scale of these art features act as landmarks, reflecting the unveiling of character from businesses along two blocks along Second Avenue between Blanchard and Battery Street.
There are definitely layers of art in Belltown, a collection of event stickers pasted over one another in the alley behind a music club and bar (21). Not too far away is a competition between the colorful store fronts of a Mexican restaurant among many bars (10 -14). Behind these restaurants along 2nd Avenue is a service alley, with a variety of sculpture, graffiti and shrines that represent business and individual identity toward the public sphere.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Strolling along streets, searching for an interesting topic for the urban observation assignment, I finally notice that I always peek into windows from one another without consciousness. Windows along the streets always attract my attention. People began using glass to be the major material of window from the recent decades. The transparency character of glass defines private and public spaces in a opportunity for people from inside and outside of buildings to communicate in different ways.
The collection of photos comes from downtown Seattle, University District and neighborhood near Green Lake. In different regions, windows show different applications.
Window displays are just a tiny, ordinary thing that exists around us everyday. Thinking about how its meaning and potential influences the city is really interesting. As long as we would like to observe our environment carefully and use our creativity to make our living place better, I believe every small element or usual activity can be meaningful and worth concern. I would image that in a commercial area, some stores might display their products which can interact with passersby; in an education district, students might display their study works to inform and update ner knowledge with neighborhood; in a residence community, neighborhood might hold window display competition occasionally and form the consensus of community wision together.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The sidewalk is still here but you can't walk on it anymore since its now a wall. Underfoot are lumpy woodchips that shift slightly with each step. I slow down to see. On either side of me, furrows of brown earth are interrupted by stout rosemary bushes, flimsy daffodils or bunches of mustard greens, blushing wine-red from the frost. I know there are tiny seeds tucked in between the soft, silvery sage and gaudy euphorbia. Tiny radish, chard and lettuce promisary notes to be redeemed once the weather warms. I slow down to see what is not yet visible. I can almost smell warm soup and taste the water crunch of carrot. I see strawberry leaves as red as their fruit will be this summer but get distracted by a child's dinosaur painted on a ceramic tile. Yum! He is enjoying the berries I can't have. As I stand to leave, blue tarp, yellow plastic watering can, rumpled burlap and the fuzzy fractals of a lamb's ear snag my attention. I slow down see what is visible when I slow down. Painted letters form C O M M U N I T Y on a sign made by friends and neighbors. In another few months these brown furrows will fill with fresh food, which will fill the soup bowls in a nearby kitchen, which will fill the emptiness and satisfy the hunger of a few strangers for a few hours. I cross the street to the next block and feel the slap of step on pavement.
Although the Wallingford Center could be considered as a measure of gentrification as many other neighborhood in this country. The difference is the local history is being maintained by keeping the original school building. The more important aspect of the success of the center is because it is being supported by the local community of Wallingford which is a primarily residential neighborhood with more affordable housing than other neighborhoods of the city.
The walkabilit to the Center from the neighborhood. Most of the shops on the 45th Street and Wallingford Ave. are not taller that 3 storey high. That is a good human scale. Many shops have apartments on top. That gives the “eyes on the street” benefit to better secure the safety issues in the neighborhood. The location is also served by public buses. The surrounding blocks have a wide variety of restaurants, shops, two cinemas and other amenities. The Center sits in the middle of a vibrant community.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Cities are complex and fragmented places and it is important to strategically think about how we bind disparate elements together in order to maximize function for all users. I believe that the bike paths and the way the vacant spaces surrounding them have been activated serves to connect fragmented components of our city. I am using this final project to explore how Seattle benefits from the creative uses of the spaces directly adjacent to, surrounding and between bike paths in Seattle. I believe that these spaces along the bike trail represent an emerging mixed use structure of the land along bike paths. And just as mixed-use has been touted as a successful way to structure space and provide for needs on the street, I believe mixed use facilities will be equally as successful along the bike paths because they provide for needs and build community which in turn keeps the trails activated and safe.
Cowen Park is a lovely park in a density neighborhood. I find people usually visit the park during weekend and the good weather day. And many of them are families, especially kids and parents. Parents usually bring their children to use the facilities in the park, and people living nearby use the park for walking with their dogs. However, compared with other parks in the UW area, it’s not a very popular one, even though it is easily to access. Not too many people know this park. The community is keeping renew this park to create more popular space, but it’s not very successful. There are several reasons: though the park is in a density residential area, many apartments are lived by students, and the students’ major activities happen in the campus. Only a few families live here, and most of the equipments in the park are just for family using. And mostly the facilities in the park are just for children. However, Cowen Park is a big and beautiful green area, then people use their way to represent themselves in the park. They draw and build in the park to use the park better for them.
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