Seattle's bold vision for a 'waterfront for all'

Seattle is looking to create a world-class waterfront. Here's the latest design.

Seattle's downtown is surrounded by one of the most beautiful natural environments of any big city in the United States. It sits along Elliott Bay and when the clouds break, and the misty rainfall subsides, the snow-capped Olympic mountain range glows in the background. Throughout the day a palate of colors in the sky paints the captivating scene. But since 1953 that view has been tainted by a double-decked highway traveling parallel to the city's waterfront.

In 2011, the city decided to remove the Alaska Way Viaduct (in the photo above) and also develop its waterfront.

In its place will be a boulevard alongside a 2 mile stretch of redesigned waterfront with new public spaces, pedestrian pathways, and access to the water. Landscape architect James Corner just released his latest plans for the project. The guiding principle of the project is "a waterfront for all" where visitors and locals can enjoy the site and neighborhoods can more easily access the space.

Here are some of the latest artist renderings of the new project:

Seattle could have easily ignored its waterfront. It is already a tourist draw with Pike Place Market nearby and the natural beauty of the bay and mountains there to stay. But instead, the city went all-in to create a world-class public space that will take advantage of its surroundings and become a major destination point.

Of course, it will come at a cost. As The Seattle Times reports, the project is estimated to cost $420 million. But half the cost is expected to come from a local improvement district that will be funded by nearby property owners, while city taxpayers and private donations will cover the rest. It might not be cheap, but what bold urban project is? The project is expect to be complete in 2019.

You can take a look at the complete design proposal here.

All artist renderings of the waterfront project are courtesy of James Corner Field Operations

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Waqcku

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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