What is the public realm? It’s the streets, sidewalks, plazas, corners and parks of a city. It’s also the special elements that ensure an enjoyable experience for the pedestrian in these spaces – and makes them want to come back.
A good public realm puts the pedestrian first. We think about the quality, comfort, and aesthetics of the street. Is the area clean and pleasant to be in, comfortable to walk through? Is there a choice of places to sit, relax and people watch? Is there food, information and shopping available?
The ABC’s of pedestrian improvements
The common wisdom for downtown organizations is to “start with the petunias.” In the Rosslyn BID’s case, major landscaping projects have transformed the traffic islands, now filled with crape myrtles and knock-out roses, and terra cotta planters filled with seasonal blooms that liven up the sidewalks. Street trees are neatly fenced and surrounded with decorative grasses. Other BID contributions include custom bicycle racks mimicking Artisphere’s logo. Colorful banners on every light pole. Convenient “You Are Here” maps and wayfinding signs.“Big Belly” recycling and trash receptacles. The smiling Ambassador team, dressed in trademark purple.
The Rosslyn BID works through its Urban Design Committee to ensure that all of Rosslyn’s redevelopment projects create great public spaces, large and small. Some examples:
• The Turnberry Tower water wall;
• Café Assorti’s outdoor seating;
• The tiny plaza adjacent to Red Hot and Blue;
• Le Meridien's fourth floor restaurant Amuse is just off the public terrace overlooking Key Bridge; and
• Public art projects such as “Liquid Pixels,” “Cupid’s Garden” and the upcoming “Corridor of Light” project.
During construction, RR helps place temporary public art and planters, to add color and interest. CentralSpace, with its moveable tables and Adirondack chairs, has been a great success. The temporary furniture has also been added to other sites, around the district. “Rosslyn is a ‘work in progress,’” says Lucia deCordre, the BID's Urban Design Director. “Our goal is to make everyone happy to be in Rosslyn – both during and after construction!”
RBIC provides landscape enhancements to traffic islands, park entrances and tree pit areas, providing a better pedestrian experience and encouraging passers-by to come into the parks. Throughout Rosslyn additional planting has been added to further the County’s work.