One of the concepts the BikeWalk Logan Square group is exploring for the Logan Square “el” station “plaza” (see also Let’s put the Logan Square “el” station “plaza” out of its misery) is a park-like destination.
As previously stated, beyond the mechanics of the train and bus transportation, this transportation hub has long been a sorry expanse of uninviting concrete. Our group wants to include and move beyond the multi-modal transportation aspect of the hub (for more on the idea, see Project for Public Spaces, From Place to Place: Shifting the Transportation Paradigm with Placemaking).
If the point of transportation planning is to get people places they want to be, then all transportation planning should really start with placemaking.
We see an opportunity to create an aesthetically inviting destination, a place where people would enjoy spending some time, and a place that would add value to the business district of Milwaukee and Kedzie Avenues.
One way to do that is to create a park at the station.
In addition to the suggested improvements to various transportation modes and access to the station (see Improving multi-modal access and experience at the Logan Square transportation hub), in order to achieve the idea of a park at the station, we propose additional changes mainly focused on what is the current “plaza” area to the west of the station canopy.
Starting at the top of the image above (click on image to enlarge; north is to the right), we propose to expand the plaza/park area by narrowing the bus lanes. Currently there appears to be capacity for four buses side by side, but only two buses, the eastbound and westbound 76/Diversey buses, pick up passengers here and rarely side by side. At one time another bus line used the station, but that is no longer the case, so we would like to capture some of that unused asphalt bus lane to expand the plaza/park area to make it a more attractive place.
Like with the sidewalk to the north of the bus lanes, planters could be used to form a barrier between the buses and the people enjoying the plaza/park (see, for example, photo above of a multi-section planter that would invite climbing plants).
While there have always been trees planted at the station, at least in recent years they’ve been in various states of, well, dead or dying. We would like to see some trees planted in a manner that would give them a chance to mature and provide shade to the plaza/park (see, for example, photo above).
Then we’d like to see some café tables and chairs where people could sit and enjoy the plaza/park, enjoy carry-out food from a local restaurant or from a street vendor.
Another great people attractor and place activator is water. People like to look at it, touch it, and even hear it, so our park concept includes a shallow water feature (see, for example, photo left). We suggest that it be separated from the bus lanes by planters and lined with a bench on the plaza/park side so people can dip in their toes.
East of the water feature and west of the canopy, we propose to plant some evergreen trees in clusters. These would add some winter interest to the plaza/park. These would have the added benefit — one I should have mentioned in the discussion about Improving multi-modal access and experience at the Logan Square transportation hub — of providing some protection from the wind for waiting bus passengers.
Also, to add some dimension to the plaza/park, we envision a low grass berm along Milwaukee Avenue that would be separated by a path to the Milwaukee Avenue bus stop (see, for example, photo right from Zach K on Flickr). The berm itself would serve as a barrier between moving traffic on Milwaukee Avenue and people enjoying the plaza/park. We think children waiting for the bus or who made the plaza/park the destination also might find it entertaining. And it would also provide some additional seating, if, for example, someone wanted to sit and read a book.
Finally, the surface of the plaza/park itself would be mostly a mix of grass and pavers (see, for example, photo left of a grass/paver mix). Paths of a smoother surface would cut through the grass/paver mix to provide accessible paths and ones that can be cleared of snow in the winter.
We’d also like to introduce some accent lighting, perhaps right along side the pavers (see, for example, photo left of paver lights).
Picture yourself in this plaza/park (see image below). What components do you like? And what’s missing?