2020 did not go as planned for anyone. Not for you. Not for us. And not for many of our friends, colleagues, and institutions. The pandemic uncovered the fragile nature of our places and, in turn, unearthed opportunities to radically rethink our environments.
In this light, the Gould Evans Studio for City Design is examining how planning and development can help our places become stronger and more resilient. We’re sharing a few ways we’ve been exploring these ideas in our recent work below, and look forward to collaborating in the new year, helping shape more resilient communities—together.
Wishing you a safe and prosperous 2021,
Nick Bock, Chris Brewster, Jay Currie Campbell, Yu Jia, Abby Kinney, Julie Nelson Meers, Graham Smith, Dennis Strait, and Robert Whitman
Toward A More Resilient Future
REOPENING DOWNTOWN LAWRENCE
This spring, hundreds of cities and towns across the country moved swiftly to allow restaurants, bars, and shops to open temporary outdoor seating areas on sidewalks, parking lots, and streets. We worked with dedicated civic and business leaders in downtown Lawrence, Kansas, to help the community adapt. In an interview with Strong Towns, Gould Evans architect Whitney Lang says “I think what’s in place now is the right solution… I don’t know why we wouldn’t make it permanent.”
REVIVING KANSAS CITY’S ROCK ISLAND BRIDGE
Cities across the country possess aging infrastructure that is often disregarded as a relic of the past. Kansas City’s Rock Island Bridge is a different story. The project repurposes an abandoned bridge into an active community space that reconnects Missouri and Kansas at the heart of our urban industrial landscape.
REPURPOSING BIG-BOX INTO OLATHE’S NEW INDIAN CREEK LIBRARY
The pandemic worsened an already overbuilt brick-and-mortar retail market. With a relatively short lifespan, what comes next for these large retail buildings in our communities? We worked with the City of Olathe, Kansas, to adapt a vacant big-box store into a vibrant community anchor: the Olathe Public Library Indian Creek Branch. The transformation received the 2020 Honor Award at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Central States Region Design Awards.
RETHINKING EQUITABLE, URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Covid-19 has exacerbated the need for safe and equitable public space. This year we had the opportunity to reimagine the future of the Highway 101 Central Freeway overpass—currently a noisy, smoggy, car-centric barrier between the SOMA and Mission neighborhoods—near our San Francisco studio. At San Francisco Design Week, we teamed up with San Francisco Planning Director Rich Hillis to consider how the overpass can be repurposed and we’re optimistic about continued community collaboration and incremental reshaping of the infrastructure.
Kansas City Strong—Highlights from Our Community
WORKING FROM HOME: A STORY ABOUT THE UNENDING VALUE OF MISSING MIDDLE HOUSING
For generations, the White Elephant—a tepidly affectionate name given to an old farmhouse in Kansas City’s Brookside neighborhood—has held a special place in Gould Evans planner Chris Brewster’s family. The multi-unit home has long supported residents through different phases of life. And in March, working from home took on a particularly poignant meaning as the White Elephant came to the rescue once again!
A NEW FRAMEWORK FOR NEIGHBORHOOD VALUE
During the summer, Sofia Gulaid joined the Studio for City Design as an Urban Planning and Design Fellow. Sofia is a student at MIT who concentrates in City Design and Development and works as a researcher in the Civic Data Design Lab. She brought a fresh perspective to developing a framework for nurturing value at the neighborhood level in Kansas City by challenging our conventional understanding of what drives value. Read her full report here.
ON THE WEB: MAKING A CITY WE CAN ALL AFFORD
What can we do now to foster sustainable growth and build a city we can all afford? Dennis Strait (Gould Evans) and Kevin McGinnis (Keystone District) led a 2020 ULI webinar series that explored potential for a thriving, livable city that promotes responsible land use, renewable resources, and equitable opportunities for growth. Weekly panelists included experts in design, engineering, building, governing, and community advocacy. View the full webinar series.
RECLAIM THE PUBLIC REALM
We proudly co-sponsored KC Art on the Block, a historic placemaking moment organized by Troost Market Collective, Urban League KC, and NAACP KC, and captured by photographer and videographer Cody Hunt. Thank you to Gould Evans designer Jake Brannon, who received the AIA Kansas City Volunteer Award for his integral work on the project.
Shares + Shout-Outs
- 2020 AIA Arizona Urban Regional Planning Award: Phoenix Transit-Oriented Development Plan
- 2020 AIA Central States Region Honor Award: Olathe Public Library Indian Creek Branch
- 2020 AIA KC Volunteer Award: Gould Evans Designer Jake Brannon
- 2020 Kansas City Business Journal Best Places to Work: Gould Evans
- Gould Evans Endorses Brian Platt for City Manager of Kansas City, MO
- KC’s Next City Manager Will Face Tough Decisions. Here’s How We Can Grow Smarter (PDF)
- Use Stimulus to Maintain Viable Infrastructure, Not Build More
- It’s Time to Rethink How We Regulate City-Building
- Building on Stable Investments for Future Generations
- Turning Toward Greatness, Before We Get to Detroit
- Worse Than Great Recession? Pandemic May Force Kansas City To Change Expensive Ways
- Congratulations to Midtown KC Now and Street Smarts Design + Build for successfully implementing the Midtown Asphalt Art Project, made possible through support of Bloomberg Philanthropies.
- Congratulations to Gregg Lombardi , Christina Hoxie, and the Lykins community for being recognized by the Missouri APA for Outstanding Public Outreach.
- Congratulations to Sara Copeland, Community Development Director at the City of North Kansas City, for being granted the Outstanding Implementation award by the Missouri APA for the Armour Road Complete Street project.