Urban Design Journal Clay Crevasse
My plan for photographing the urban landscape in Gainesville was based around the ideals found in current Gainesville planning, the main themes included being community involvement and inclusivity. Many of the areas I photographed were public spaces which included parks and plazas, that were designed to improve citizen participation in the community.
Bo Diddley Plaza represents a public access space in Gainesville that has been revitalized within the last few years. The plaza is a good example of how the renovation of a space can completely change the attitudes of the public who inhabit the space. The plaza features a stage which hosts local musicians of all genres and the surrounding area of the plaza is utilized every Wednesday for a local farmer's market. Because of the utilization of this space in a manner that promotes community inclusiveness to citizens, the park has seen overwhelming improvement following renovations. Although it is still a space often used by the homeless population, there is a general sense of territoriality in the community which positively attributes to the overall well-being of the plaza.
The Hippodrome Theater, which was once a courthouse, is one of the most prominent examples of historical preservation in the downtown area. It fits in well with the surrounding residential areas, although mixed use space downtown often makes the Hippodrome feel outdated. Thankfully, there has been a general design theme in the downtown area to include as much southern charm as possible, which is definitely helpful in preserving the history of Gainesville. I think the current use of the building is fitting, as the Renaissance era façade of the building makes one feel as if they were about to witness true Renaissance theatrics.
The houses above are two examples of the historic homes located in the downtown area, specifically near the duck pond. If you view these homes and think about the Hippodrome Theater, which was built in 1909, you can get a sense of the general landscape of Gainesville 100+ years ago. Gainesville has clearly done a very good job of preserving these historic homes, as it is very hard to get approval for new developments in this area. Anyone who lives in the historic downtown zone of Gainesville has very easy access to downtown, as well as some of the green-spaces included in this presentation. Although I do understand that development is necessary in any city, I am highly in favor of preserving historical elements of a city whenever possible. This area has a very safe feel, and walkability is high - although pedestrian walkways and sidewalks in this area are often in poor condition or non-existent.
The Seagle Building is currently the tallest building in Gainesville, and has been since construction started in the 1920's. It is obvious that the thought behind such a building was that there would be a huge increase in population, but it is apparent that the building was never really considered as attractive as developers had hoped. When you drive or walk by the building, it feels out of place compared to the surrounding commercial and mixed use buildings - mainly because of its height. I personally find the building to be attractive due to its historic qualities, but its current state could definitely use a renovation. I think the building could become relevant again, assuming that a) UF continues to expand to the east, and b) the residential units in the building get modern upgrades which would make them more attractive to students and Gainesville residents. The building is currently not in the residential "hub" for UF students, but if businesses and the university keep developing east of campus, it could become a viable option.
The Standard is set to be complete before the start of the fall 2017 semester, but many residents of Gainesville view the development as an eyesore. From viewing the picture on the left, it is obvious that the mixed-use development engulfs its surroundings and leaves no space left undeveloped. I tend to think of situations from a business standpoint, so my opinion of The Standard may be biased toward the developer. I can definitely agree with concerned citizens who have a more conservationist attitude that the building feels out of place in its surroundings. It is massive. However, a development like this will without a doubt improve the walkability of the campus community by housing hundreds of students within a half mile radius to classes, restaurants, grocery stores, etc. I could also see this development starting a trend in the midtown area for higher quality residences, which could lead to economic development for other student housing companies - while the rental market will likely see a spike in rent prices. Yes, The Standard is a very ambitious development for Gainesville, but it is obvious that the developers have identified a real demand among students who want to be located right next to campus, and from what I can tell, the units are being filled.
Depot Park is a prime example of how changing the intended use of a property can drastically change the overall landscape of the urban environment. What was once contaminated earth due to railway use is now a recreational park that attracts visitors from all parts of town. In addition, the pond featured in the park serves as a stormwater treatment system for the downtown area. Depot Park features a general store and occasional food trucks as well as local events that will definitely attract neighboring residents. The location of the park provides a necessary link between the urban structure of downtown to green-space that is family friendly. The park is less than a mile walk from the Hippodrome Theater, which will likely contribute to citizen inclusiveness in years to come. This development is clearly a well-planned project for the city, and I think it will be very beneficial to overall community interaction in Gainesville.
Tumblin Creek Park is a less attractive example of green-space in the downtown Gainesville area. The park features a basketball court and a pavilion that could probably be used to have a picnic, but is generally used as shelter for the local homeless community. There is a wide-open grass field that is ideal for playing with the dog or a game of football with friends. To my knowledge, there are no community events that occur in this location, which may attribute to a lower sense of territoriality in the community. This park is located in close proximity to a number of student residences, which probably makes it more attractive to those residents. The completion of Depot Park likely has something to do with the small number of users at Tumblin Creek Park, as the two are very closely located, and Depot Park has more amenities to offer.
Recent additions to Shands have made it one of the biggest developments in Gainesville but it is an obvious necessity to residents. UF Health at Shands is one of the largest research centers in Florida and the location of the development allows easy access for students involved with the program. Despite the size of the buildings, I think that the location is well-placed in the city. Most of the time, I find that I don't even notice the buildings when driving along Archer Rd. Additionally, the central location to UF campus allows easy access for students who are working in the facilities, or those who have an emergency. The only problem I have with the design of the buildings is that the new buildings look drastically different from the old ones. Of course, this is an issue of aesthetics and the cost of renovating the older buildings will likely postpone any renovations until the distant future.
This park located on 2nd Ave. near the Innovation Hub is definitely a nice change of pace from the surrounding urban environment. The park's design blends urban spaces with green-space, and the overall design of the park is appealing. However, I used to live at 2nd Avenue Centre, and noticed that the park was used very little - other than for dog walking. When I visited the other day, there was a small display of metal structures that was an obvious attempt to get the public more involved in the space. I was the only one using the park when the photo was taken. In my opinion, the park could be improved very easily with the addition of various types of seating that would promote extended use of the space. With a few improvements, I could see this park becoming a frequently used space in the next few years; especially due to its proximity to apartment complexes and downtown.