The group of architects and designers who beat out two rival competitors to upgrade an 840-foot-long section of Ogden Avenue between Main Street and City Parkway in Las Vegas go by the moniker, The A-Team. The contest, which took place from Dec. 7 -12, was sponsored by the Las Vegas Public Works Department and City Arts Commission, in conjunction with COLAB Las Vegas.
The Ogden corridor connects downtown redevelopment together to the Smith Center for the Performing Arts area. But the four-lane asphalt roadway, which saw 5,900 vehicles a day in 2012, is plagued by narrow sidewalks and poor lighting, noise and no landscaping. It’s ugly and unsafe, not inviting to foot traffic.
The A-Team makeover by Eric Strain, Albert Brown, Glen Curry, and David Ryan proposes to change that by injecting some much needed verve. The scheme moves sidewalks from each side of the roadway into a 3-foot raised middle median similar to the ACE rapid transit platforms. It creates a 28-foot wide shared walkway for greater pedestrian interaction and engagement.
“Rather than having pedestrians isolated at the roadway edges, we looked at bringing people together to reinforce collisions for more interaction,” said Eric Strain, principal with assemblageSTUDIO. “It encourages people to take the walk, creating an energetic space. There are not a lot of people who currently walk it.”
The design additionally adds greenery to screen wind and sun while generating fresh oxygen production that counteracts vehicle emissions. There will also be standalone lily pad lighting along the path, adding shading and sculptural excitement. The Ogden underpass is being renamed the Ogden Underground as a nod to Seattle’s city life beneath the city. Meanwhile, a carpet of lights is being added along the underside of the bridge, making it reminiscent of vintage Vegas porte-cocheres. A 4-foot-thick unmovable concrete wall supports the bridge and splits the walkway, but LED screens help counteract that by projecting what is happening on other side for a sort of digital interaction.
“We didn’t want people to feel isolated on either side of the wall,” said Glen Curry, a designer at Gensler. “Sensors pick-up people walking through and project it on the other side as an implied virtual interaction through lights.”
The project conceptually references neon with atoms colliding into one another inside a tube to generate light. The color schemes draw their inspiration from venerable Vegas hotels like Binion’s Gambling Hall. The A-Team envisions the corridor eventually hosting concerts, events and gatherings with food trucks and artists. The winning concept, tentatively budgeted at $500,000, is being developed into a buildable plan that could break ground in late 2014. CL