Douglas Avenue Improvements, Wichita, KS
LK Architecture was selected by the City of Wichita to design improvements to the Douglas Avenue corridor through downtown Wichita. The edict for the design was to enhance Wichita’s “postcard image” while increasing the pedestrian experience for the City’s most distinctive streetscape. Through extensive work with the client, stakeholder groups and public engagement, a vision emerged which would build on the strengths of the corridor while strengthening a more walkable environment.
The initial phase of improvements added bulb-outs at street crossings to enhance walkability and pedestrian safety. Along with this, LK designed new transit shelters which are located at eight locations along the corridor. These new shelters have a distinctively historic flavor while integrating design details which anchoring them to both Douglas Avenue and Wichita. While historic in theme, the shelters feature modern amenities such as lighted advertising panels and bus reader boards.
As part of the project, LK designed an update to the existing trellis columns which had become dated. The columns were re-envisioned as light columns which were fitted with programmable light-changing LEDs and lens. The lighting system is programmed to correspond to holidays and special events taking place downtown.
Further improvements to the streetscape included the addition of lean rails, benches, bicycle racks and numerous planter pots. The new planters line the corridor and receive seasonal planting which has improved the pedestrian experience by “greening” the streetscape. Along with the planters, LK also created a reforestation plan to remove dead and declining trees and replace them to reestablish a tree canopy. As part of this work, LK also designed and implemented the City’s first subgrade modular planting system to maximize tree performance and longevity.
Most recently, improvements to the BNSF railroad overpass were implemented. The century-old structure was a haven for pigeons, was dark and an impediment to the walkability of downtown. Improvements were meant to enhance the historic structure without detraction. The structure was painted and bird control installed. The lighting replaced to provide even and consistent illumination of the sidewalks. Custom guardrails were design to provide pedestrian safety as well as integrate some district branding. Additionally, custom designed light columns were added to both sides of the bridge to highlight the structure upon approach as a gateway to downtown. These improvements, while subtle and understated, have made a major impact to the structure and has effectively made a previous barrier into a strong connection.
City of Wichita