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#projectoftheweek: University City Urban Design TOD - Return to Nature

Wednesday, September 26, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sandra Doherty
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University City Urban Design TOD - Return to Nature

Architectural Firm: Gensler 



"Return to Nature" is a design speculation to redevelop a 45-acre greenfield site located in the

University City area. The design concept organizes ribbons of nature and public space that

transition from urban connectivity to a living retreat. The site opens through a series of mixeduse

blocks that erode as they descend towards a valley occupied by a winding creek. The park

forms the core ribbon of the site: a varied natural landscape given over to the public realm,

dividing the site between commercial and residential.



The space that creates a restorative landscape for people and the environment is organized

around ribbons that are oriented around the site slopes, valleys, and ridges. The in-between

zones become various scales of program that transition from large scale mixed use to small scale

residential mediating the neighborhood to our east.


The Ribbons follow the site’s natural topography, beginning with an urban, dense built edge at

Tryon Road that forms the interface with the adjacent suburban context. Flanking the winding

creek are a series of terraces that build up to a tilted linear park adjacent to the mixed-use ribbon,

populated with retail and food & beverage pavilions and public spaces that are perched about the

existing woods, creating a sequence of treehouses and outposts anchoring and shaping a variety

of key public spaces, such as amphitheaters, lawns and outdoor rooms.


Crossing through and over the creek, the site builds back up the slope to a final series of ribbons

of residential blocks, populated with townhomes and residential-scaled parks and outdoor

amenities. Key cross-axes cross the ribbons and the creek, creating a sequence of unique spaces

and experiences meant to emulate water winding its way across a slope. The crossings also serve

a key urban function: To stitch the site together and connect to adjacent properties, encouraging

both public use of the site’s natural amenities and minimizing choke-points by facilitating through access and mobility. Inspired by natural patterns of creeks, valleys and ridges, the design creates

a community of mixed use that curates a "live, work, play" lifestyle.


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