In Pictures: Urban Design and Activated Streetscapes in Salt Lake

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The Redevelopment Agency added outdoor dining space and signage to activate East Gallivan Avenue and connect the avenue to the future State Street Plaza project on the 200 South block of State Street. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

Designers joined business and community leaders for Salt Lake Design Week, an annual event intended to raise the public awareness of the local impact of design.  The week-long event concluded Saturday, October 17th.  As part of Design Week, Salt Lake City Urban Designer, Molly Robinson led a walking tour to look at how urban design principles activate the downtown Salt Lake streetscape.

“The street is a social place that should be designed accordingly,” said Molly Robinson to the tour group of over 40 people.

Robinson focused the tour on five urban design qualities that activate streetscapes and improve walkability, adapted from the book “Measuring Urban Design: Metrics for Livable Places” written by University of Utah professor Reid Ewing and transportation planner, Otto Clemente.

  • Imageability: the visual impact based on the personal experience of the pedestrian, including trees, landscape, landmarks and signage.
  • Enclosure: buildings, trees and walls create a room-like ambiance along a street.
  • Human Scale:  the spacial relationship between structures and human proportions.
  • Transparency: the visibility or perception of human activity between public and private space.
  • Complexity: includes structural and aesthetic details that create rhythm along a corridor.

Below are examples on and around Main Street that according to Robinson reflect the different degrees of street activation in downtown.

Active streetscapes require various uses that engage pedestrians. Trees and seating areas offer shade and rest. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Active streetscapes require various uses that engage pedestrians. Trees and seating areas offer shade, rest and gathering places. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Outdoor dining on Main Street creates street level activity.
Outdoor dining on Main Street creates street level activity while the trees and signage create visual interest.
Wall-length window doors at Beerhive open up to the street level and create transparency by making human activity visible from the street. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Wall-length window doors at Beerhive Pub open to the street level and create transparency by making human activity visible from the street. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Buildings along downtown Main Street require large first floor windows for transparency and to add to the active use of the street. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Buildings along downtown Main Street require large first floor windows for transparency and to add to the active use of the street. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Many business cover ground floor windows with ads or images that close off the ground floor to outside visibility. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Although not allowed on Main Street, many business cover ground floor windows with ads or images that close off the ground floor to outside visibility. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The 100 South block of Regent Street currently lacks street engagement. Construction will start In the next few months on enhancements that will activate the streetscape. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
While the 100 South block of Regent Street has enclosure, it currently lacks street engagement. Construction will start in the next few months on enhancements that will activate the streetscape in conjunction with the opening of the. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The building on the southeast corner of the 100 South and Regent Street intersection will be renovated to open up to the street. The building is currently closed off at the street level but ground floor walls will be replaced with large windows. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The building on the southeast corner of the 100 South and Regent Street intersection will be renovated to open up to the street. The building is currently closed off at the street level but ground floor walls will be replaced with large windows. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The Redevelopment Agency added outdoor dining space and signage to activate East Gallivan Avenue and connect the avenue to the future State Street Plaza project on the 200 South block of State Street. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The Redevelopment Agency added outdoor dining space and signage to activate East Gallivan Avenue and connect the avenue to the future State Street Plaza project on the 200 South block of State Street. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
About Isaac Riddle 630 Articles

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for
Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.