Creating Community Through Pedestrian-Oriented Design

The Hillyard neighborhood in Spokane Washington has a scarcity of shared public space and programs that lead to thriving communities. With the construction of the new Shaw Middle School, Spokane Public Library Hillyard Branch, and On-Track Academy, Spokane Public Schools (SPS) saw opportunities for a public partnership. This partnership with local entities creates a hub of safe, bustling community areas which provide access to key services, education and skill-building programs.  

The existing Cook Street has been used as a through-way connecting two high traffic roads among Spokane’s Hillyard neighborhood. AHBL’s team was challenged to make the street more pedestrian-friendly, without decreasing functionality.  

The new Shaw Middle School campus provides an opportunity for SPS to redefine how the school serves students and the community. The project, designed in collaboration with Integrus Architecture, will be comprised of several buildings including Shaw Middle School with the Hillyard Public Library and the On-Track Academy, and sits adjacent to the existing Hillyard Public Library, Northeast Community Center and Newtech Skills Center. At the heart of the resulting campus will be a pedestrian-oriented streetscape which connects the buildings and their programs, once divided by a high-traffic road.  

The team found inspiration in the Dutch concept of Woonerf, which challenges traditional United States’ road design by prioritizing pedestrian and cyclist traffic over automobiles. The road will be significantly narrowed to allow for wider sidewalks, large stormwater treatment planting areas, and a “plaza” feel between Shaw Middle School and the Northeast Community Center. Designated street parking and specialized drop-off locations, along with newly designed crossings will better facilitate both vehicle and pedestrian traffic.  

These improvements will greatly benefit the community by creating a campus feel and increasing safe access to community resources. While this concept has been integrated into many larger urban environments, it will serve as a model for other street designs in the Spokane-area that are seeking traffic calming solutions that promote pedestrian and cyclist safety. 

This project was designed in collaboration with Integrus Architecture for Spokane Public Schools.  

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