Design Workshop Wins ASLA Award for “St. Louis Great Streets Initiative” Pilot Project

14 June 2010

ST. LOUIS, MissouriDesign Workshop, an international landscape architecture, planning and strategic services firm, recently received a 2010 Honor Award from the Central States Chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for its South Grand Boulevard project in St. Louis. The project involved the development of a plan that set forth a vision to improve the environmental quality of the street's corridor, while strengthening economic opportunities, community amenities and livability factors. The plan also outlines new standards for sustainability, accessibility practices and public engagement.

Each year, the ASLA's Central States Chapters, which includes the Great Plains, Iowa, Oklahoma, Prairie Gateway and St. Louis chapters, recognizes outstanding examples of work in landscape architecture and planning. This year, 17 projects were honored with only four Honor Award designations given out. The South Grand Boulevard project was recognized in the Analysis and Planning Category, and the award was presented at the ASLA Central States Conference held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on April 22-24, 2010.

South Grand Boulevard is one of the busiest north/south corridors in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area and it was chosen as a pilot project for the East-West Gateway Council of Government's Great Streets Initiative because it would provide a model for accessible design due to its location in a diverse city neighborhood. As part of this initiative, the project has a goal of creating a place that reflects the character of its neighborhoods and establishes environments that facilitate the interaction of people, promote local commerce, and create a plan for smart, sustainable growth.

Design Workshop was charged with gaining community approval of a master plan for South Grand Boulevard and completing construction documents related to it. The firm led a comprehensive design process that focused on understanding the area's history and current conditions while continually involving the local community to help create a future vision for development along South Grand Boulevard. During the process, Design Workshop utilized public polling and tested various metrics against design decisions to ensure that the final result would align with the community's needs and the project's goals. Additional public outreach activities that were used included one-on-one briefings, social media (Facebook and Twitter), public informational meetings, online surveying and a project hotline. Approximately 1,800 participants were engaged during the process.

With the community's support to reduce South Grand Boulevard to a three-lane configuration, a pilot test re-striped the roadway. Makeshift curb extensions were created at the intersections to represent future design and signal timing was adjusted according to traffic-modeling studies. Traffic speeds were lowered from an average of 45 to 32 miles per hour. As a result, noise levels dropped eight decibels, to a range suitable for conversation and dining. A month after implementation, public polling showed that 73 percent felt the pilot test was a success and should continue until permanent construction.

“From the onset of this project our goal with to connect with the general public and key stakeholders in a way that educated them on the relevant issues and allowed them to take an active role in the development of the master plan,” said Kurt Culbertson, Design Workshop's chairman of the board of directors. “The insight we received was invaluable in creating a plan that assessed South Grand Boulevard's current situation and led to a collective vision of what the community wanted and needed. We came to a solution that allowed the characteristics of this ‘great street' to shine with a sustainable approach that could be replicated in other parts of the city.”

A total of $3.1 million has been set aside to construct the eight-block segment included in Phase One of improvements along South Grand Boulevard. In addition to the Phase One Implementation Plan, a Master Plan book was developed by Design Workshop to lay the foundation for future improvement and provide a model for future Great Streets Initiative efforts and redevelopment projects. Design Workshop is also currently working with East-West Gateway on the Manchester Road Corridor, which is another St. Louis Great Streets Initiative project in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.

About Design Workshop
Founded in 1969, Design Workshop is an international landscape architecture, land planning, urban design and strategic services firm with six offices in the U.S. and work spanning the globe. The firm has been recognized with over 150 prestigious awards for its work in new communities, urban centers, resorts, public parks, golf courses and residences. The firm's philosophy challenges the project team to equally integrate and balance artistic vision, environmental sensitivity, community values and sound economics to create unique places that stand the test of time. It refers to this approach as DW Legacy Design®.