(picture caption: Parking ramp East 3rd Street at College Street)
WMA's Idea PremiseCharlotte is on the cusp of bigger and better things. The Urban Vision Plan 2020 suggests four activators that can propel our Center City into local distinction and national prominence. Of the four visions: viability, livability, memorability and sustainability, we pick two. We feel being memorable, yet sustainable are two qualities we can readily implement and expand over time.
We suggest two possible ongoing urban projects. The first, Charlotte’s Vertical Green wall project and the second, Charlotte’s Beacon project. Both these projects could eventually garner wide support within the Center City and the community at large, if properly executed.
The Vertical Green Wall Project
Sustainability has become the operative word for most building construction taking place today. As the availability of our resources becomes more limited, we are meeting challenges on energy consumption and more efficient and optimal use of our existing and new building structures.
Parking decks, particularly existing parking decks in our Center City, are prime candidates for conversion in energy making resources. In the 1980’s, we posed a similar project/challenge to Bank of America when they were constructing a parking deck along the now Blue Line of the Charlotte Transit System. The parking deck is now graced with an abstract kinetic structure, but a green wall, as we proposed, would have been a major trendsetter had it been implemented.
Fast forward to the 2012 and we are faced with equal challenges and opportunities. Engaging local owners of uptown parking structures to convert them inexpensively with colorful, textural vegetation along with photovoltaic applications, where feasible, could create a series of transformative urban projects, both sustainable and memorable.
(Proposed green wall with photovoltaic installation)
The Charlotte Beacon Project
The urban vision plan also suggests expanding and enhancing focus areas both within the Center City and along its edges. Each of these areas would be ideal to locate and integrate an artistic, iconic design. Imagine beacons, illuminated, kinetic and artful, identifying the boundaries or edges of the six primary focus areas of the Vision Plan:
-I277 Ballpark neighborhood
-N. Tryon Street
-Charlotte Transportation Center
-W. Trade Corridor
(South Mint Street entry to “Ballpark Neighborhood”)
(Bat and Ball beacon luminaries along South Mint Street)
Each of these areas could have distinct identity markers to create prominence and individuality within the Center City and along its edges. These areas or zones, connected with networks of green spaces, pedestrian sidewalks and other public amenities would begin to stitch together an unprecedented quilt of visually stimulating urban districts.
(South Mint Street night time effect)