Is the Pedway the Right Way?

In Architecture, Urbanism on July 7, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Designing systems for buildings, people and vehicles to coexist in a busy downtown like Chicago is a great opportunity for innovation and creativity in design.  The above pedway crossing over South Water Street just East of Michigan Avenue in Chicago satisfies all of these requirements quite well.  The design allows vehicular traffic to pass underneath the pedway, pedestrian traffic to flow above the traffic, and the entire structure in turn serves as the base and public plaza of the Mies van der Rohe office building above.  The perspective here illustrates one of the several entrances to the pedway on the left.

The Loop has its fair share of under and above ground pedestrian pathways intended to provide shelter to users while taking full advantage of the captive audience with shops, restaurants and business dotting the way.  Interestingly, from an urban design standpoint, the pedway itself is difficult to successfully design in city centers that are not as busy as Chicago.  They essentially divert people from the street level businesses that rely on foot traffic.  Also, in today’s car-dominated society, giving further speed and prominence to vehicular traffic in city centers can make the few pedestrians on the street feel uneasy about strolling through a potentially hazardous downtown.

Despite these common pitfalls, this pedway seems to allow pedestrians, vehicles and the surrounding buildings to coexist creatively.

  1. Great analysis. You have nicely prioritized all major points and delivered it in a very professional manner.
    It is going to be useful for me as I am going to visit Chicago this weekend. It is my first time in Chicago so I am excited…

    • Thanks, Albert! I appreciate the thoughtful critique here, as well as on the LinkedIn ARCHITECT discussion. After reading your “About” page & the Inception review (both of which I enjoyed immensely), I think you may enjoy this TED talk that I frequently reference to friends about Doing What You Love, No Excuses.

      Thanks again, and please feel free to comment, suggest and critique any & all aspects of the blog!

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