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Davis Commons in California by MARK DZIEWULSKI ARCHITECT
August 29th, 2013 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: MARK DZIEWULSKI ARCHITECT
The site is adjacent to the heart of the thriving downtown area of the city of Davis. The solution is novel for this type of use: a contextual piece of urban infill, creating a new public park and providing a consistent continuation of the existing density and pedestrian scale. It is the exact opposite of typical concepts for this building type, which would normally place the buildings well back from the street and surround them with parking. The site plan in this case was carefully laid out in relation to the plan of the existing city: the buildings continue the line the street wall and then curve back to create a much needed public green-space, whilst the parking requirement is concealed behind.
Contextual considerations were central to the planning. The project lies at the meeting point of four very important axes: the main entrance road to the city center, the principal retail street, the road to the University and a beautifully landscaped bike trail leading from the University of Davis along a creek. It is in effect both a gateway to the city and the meeting point between the downtown and the University. The major organizing element of the design is the circular park which the project creates at the intersection of these main axes.
The park celebrates the formal entry to the city and marks the connection between city and campus. It provides an appropriate culmination for the main retail street and is an attractive gathering place for the dense downtown area. The buildings curve around the park to help define its edge and circular form. The trail from the university is brought through the site along a tree-lined path which continues through an entrance court to the park and to the central axis of the city center beyond. The triangular geometry of this court makes the passage between the buildings an appropriately formal entrance to the downtown.
The circular footprint allows the maximum utilization of the site by increasing the effective street frontage for retail space and also preserves a heritage tree, an important focal point for the park. A board esplanade circles the park with seating for cafes and restaurants overlooking the green and shady lawns which will also be used for outdoor performances and events.
The formal geometry of traditional European city planning, expressed with a modern architectural language, is used to create an exciting and dynamic piece of urban space. The project provides an appropriate setting for urban life and makes a substantial contribution to the public space and character of the city of Davis. Even though the project is not yet completely occupied, the lawns and terraces have already become a popular gathering place for both the townspeople and students.
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Category: Public Landscapes