Landscape Architect & Specifier News

AUG 2014

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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44 Landscape Architect and Specifier News Economic disinvestment, years of neglect, aging and failing infrastructure, a lack of pedestrian features and poor walkability were problems for downtown Binghamton, N.Y. The city's gateway was seen as an ideal economic stimulus for this small upstate town, and became part of the new mayor's platform for revitalizing the district. The city had updated its comprehensive plan in 2003, completed a public visioning process in 2004, and commissioned the National Trust Main Street Center to conduct an assessment of the downtown in 2005. This data, together with development pressures from more than 750 student housing units proposed in downtown, also encouraged the process. The gateway project area encompassed five blocks in the heart of downtown, including the Courthouse Square, and extends from the eastern gateway to the Chenango River. The square consisted of a skewed intersection that was unsafe for pedestrians due to excessive crossing distances and poorly sequenced traffic signals. The need to stimulate reinvestment in the area by improving safety and aesthetics was apparent. The project was formally initiated with receipt of a transportation grant in 2005, which funded much of the project's $2.7 million price tag by the end of construction. After a successful competition, HAAS Landscape Architects and Shumaker Consulting Engineering & Land Surveying, PC, met with city officials and initiated survey and design concepts. The team was retained in 2006 by the city of Binghamton to explore multiple design alternatives for the corridor. A design report on the preferred changes was prepared, and included environmental screenings, and alternatives that included a one-lane roundabout, costs, and other supporting documentation. Visuals, Above The courthouse square and roundabout features active and passive pedestrian zones, defined by concrete walkways for the former and brick pavers for the latter. Street tree plantings include ÔImperialÕ honeylocust, Magyar maidenhair, katsura and Japanese zelkova. New bike racks (Keystone Ridge Designs) encourage alternative transportation downtown. Right More than a decade of planning and construction in Binghamton, N.Y., led to the rebuild of the cityÕs primary entryway, an area encompassing five contiguous blocks in the heart of the downtown district that includes the courthouse square, which now features a traffic roundabout with articulated crosswalks and splitter islands for snow storage.

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