Seeing Seattle (ix) street paving you can’t have here

There are a variety of reasons to pave a street in something other than asphalt. Decorative paving, for example, highlights to drivers and pedestrians that we are in a special place. Take extra care.

Regular readers of this site will have seen many such paving examples of certain blocks or even major intersections. And sometimes the paving is deliberately complex to increase uncertainty and blur the distinctions between different parts of the paved area.

Right in the heart of downtown Seattle there was this paving pattern that covered sidewalks, corsswalks, roads, parking areas, intersections… [an area roughly akin to Rideau Street east of Sussex]:



seattle 2014 045


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Installations like this aren’t welcome here in Ottawa. We use a variety of ways to keep them out. First, the City won’t install anything like this, so someone else has to fund it. And if that money appears, the naysayers and legal beagles at the city lard up the project with such onerous conditions that the funder turns away, discouraged.
For example, the Preston BIA was willing to pave this intersection in pavers:



Ahh, says our traffic boffins, and intersection with turning vehicles … and catchbasins … and access holes … here’s the extensive list of conditions and the unlimited liability you accept to do this … and natch, the BIA turned away.

Well, if they couldn’t pave the centre of the intersection, could they pave just some bits where the vehicles line up and aren’t turning?


A few bits of paving project survived. They are on the sidewalk.



At a minimum, they should have extended right across the street, creating a large circular pattern around the intersection, even if not in the intersection itself. Note how the design was consistent with the Bambinos landscaping nodal points.

Ironically, the City then went out and hired a bunch of know-it-all landscape planners from Toronto to design a fabulous “public realm” plan for the Preston area, to help make all the 40 storey condos feel more at home. No plain jane views from those glass towers, no siree, even the streets would be pretty.

But alas, the Preston-Gladstone pavers didn’t interest them, and therefore still won’t happen.

Instead, a few bits of dead end streets will be paved in slabs, with flush sidewalks (no curbs). You can see a preview of how this will look by visiting the new Lansdowne Parke.