Tuesday, October 4, 2016

One successful triangle

A recent PBS News Hour story examined the development in three cities--Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco--of triangular spaces created by streets (like Broadway in New York City) angling across the city's grid pattern. These odd little patches have been transformed into pedestrian-friendly plazas including places to sit as well as walk.

The Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II in Washington, D.C., is another creative use of triangular space. Installed in 2000, it is located in a triangle created by New Jersey and Louisiana Avenues and D Street NW.
This 1960s plan located at the National Building Museum
shows the triangle (at left) and its relationship to the U.S. Capitol
Open on two sides, it presents an oasis to passers-by in the form of a water feature with continuous flow, creating visual interest as well as white noise against the din of the surrounding city.

Once within the memorial a person definitely feels enclosed within sacred space, apart from the street just a few feet away.

There is a soft bell to ring, albeit appeared to be tricky to operate.

Those who wish to stay awhile have the option of benches, though on this rainy day no one was using them.

Unfortunately some of the engraving is wearing away, or at least is hard to read.

Despite that unfortunate glitch, this memorial uses the irregular space in the street layout in a way that soothes passersby, offers a place apart, and is a fitting tribute to a resilient and worthy group.

Cedar Rapids, too, has successfully developed some odd patches created by diagonal streets. Anderson Park, in a triangle created by 5th Avenue, 21st Street and Knollwood Drive, was creatively enhanced about 20 years ago with the addition of playground equipment.

Whatever the histories behind streets that slash across urban grids, a number of cities have shown the potential for creative and productive transformations of the odd spaces they create.

WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE ON THE MEMORIAL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_American_Memorial_to_Patriotism_During_World_War_II

"Urban Images in Art: Gustave Caillebotte," 7 October 2015
"In Search of Old 45s" (Adams Morgan), 7 October 2014
"Shutdowns and Sillypants (and the Statler Brothers)," 8 October 2013

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