My wife and I decided to get out of the house last weekend and visit the museums down the street. The fine arts museum had an incredible exhibit of sketches by a combination of relatively local and internationally famous artists from the permanent collection. Then we wandered over to the Springfield history museum and saw this:
A 3/4 scale replica of a now fairly large local supermarket chain’s first store. It has the recessed door so passers by don’t risk losing their teeth every time someone rushes out the door, and the door could be propped open without obstructing anyone or anything. The kick plates and rails are well placed to minimize accidental damage but there’s also a great use of glass to exhibit the contents of the store. There’s the awning to keep sun out when it’s a nuisance but retractable for when it’s not. Great stuff, great urbanism, and some local carpenter just looked at an old timey photo and knocked that thing out I’m sure.
Then there’s this:
Here’s the Main Street façade up close:
For those unfamiliar with the landscape, on the other side of that stone wall is the intact portion of Springfield’s traditional Main Street. Walking south from that point you can go almost a mile and only pass by two “missing teeth”. At that far end MGM has planned a development that, whatever one’s opinion on casino gambling, is impressive as walkable urbanism goes.
The Union Station project is seen as the northern terminus, for now, of a pedestrian oriented urban zone. A combination of traditional and transit oriented development. The train station proper sits at the edge of a mid 20th century “urban renewal-Le Corbusier” pedestrian hellscape, one block removed from Main Street. Creating a space between the gateway railroad arch to Main Street and the front door of Union Sation was always going to be a challenge, it is a great distance, and the rear walls of stunted “towers in a park-ing lot” give the street zero definition. I had hoped that the project might creatively achieve that goal and begin a domino effect of recapturing, incrementally, lost pedestrian space in such a way that eventually Main Street downtown might, in 30 years or so, reconnect with Main Street in Springfield’s awesome (and quirky) North End.
It is clear that the only realistic plan moving forward is to steal a strategy perfected in suburbia: make the back door the front. I did more fully elaborate that idea in a previous post, but I thought it important to mention again. I will say that the set backs on both frontages of the garage may allow for some small one or two story mini-structures which could wrap around and hide this atrocity In this way: