by Alex Davies for Treehugger – http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/05/a-72-hour-challenge-will-make-a-dallas-street-into-a-grand-boulevard-shared-by-all.php
Images Courtesy of Better Block
TreeHugger spends a good deal of time bemoaning the arch-rivals of good urban design in America: suburban sprawl and cities that are designed around cars, not people.
Agreeing that things need to change, a Texas-based group called Better Block has been busy in the last two years transforming ordinary, car-dominated streets into what they call “complete streets” : spaces shared by pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, where people gather and a sense of community is fostered.
Better Block calls itself a “planning tool for the urban retrofit,” and has pulled off projects to temporarily redesign city streets in a bunch of cities in the Texas area. The idea is that when people see that their streets do not need to be dominated by cars, that they can be safe, communal spaces, they will be inspired to take action. To change local ordinances and ways of thinking, and make the Better Block installation a permanent reality.
In April 2010, the group hit Dallas’ Oak Cliff community: they cut a street’s three car lanes down to one, installed a bike lane, and enlarged the sidewalk into a wide patio. They installed pop-up businesses and cafes, set up a kids’ art studio and brought in local musicians. The amazing thing? They did it in one day, for less than $1,000.
Check out the results:
Now, Better Block is setting its sights on a bigger project: a 72 hour challenge to give Dallas its own, albeit temporary, grand boulevard. The goal is to remake 11 blocks of Ross Avenue to include a market, an art gallery, a music venue, a food court and a transit plaza.
Those interested are invited to sign up in teams and make their contribution. The “Build a Better Boulevard” challenge is set for June 24-26 and will coincide with Dallas’ Summer Streets program. It’s unclear whether and how a winner of the challenge will be designated, but it’s a sure bet that competitors and visitors to the “grand boulevard” will go home happy.
Interested in building a Better Block in your city? Check out their how to.
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More urban transformations:
Ritzy Parisian Boulevard Goes Rural as French Farmers (and Their Cows) Take Over Champs-Elysees
Spectacular Urban Transformation in Student Green Roof Design Competition
Parking Day NYC Isn’t Activism, It’s Unintentional Performance Art