WVU students showcase ideas for redeveloping the heart of the city.
What would High Street be if it could be anything at all? WVU Landscape Architecture Professor Stefania Staniscia asked her students this question and challenged them to envision part of the street in an entirely new way.
The idea to transform downtown’s main artery isn’t something new. This past summer a group of forward-thinking residents (including our publisher Nikki Bowman Mills and her husband Michael Mills) took the first few steps. They envisioned an outdoor dining parklet outside of Tin 202—an innovative way to help the local restaurant facing state-imposed limits on capacity—and made it happen. The parklet was well-used through the summer and stood until it was dismantled by the city in January for the winter.
Staniscia’s assignment pointed her seven student groups to the part of High Street that is adjacent to Courthouse Square, just up the street from where the parklet stood last year. Their task was to suggest a way to transform the area, which could include closing it completely to traffic, reducing the lanes, or some combination of ideas to create a more usable space for residents.
Here are some images from their proposals:
Their final plans will be on display soon in the windows of the Citizens Bank building, located adjacent to the Courthouse Square, so that residents might consider the ideas while looking over the space.
Staniscia, who also volunteers her time and talents to Main Street Morgantown, said the Main Street group is supportive of ideas to transform High Street. “The community owns the space that they live in and they can make it the space that they want to be in,” she says. “My hope is to see less space for cars and more space for pedestrians and events. I definitely think it could be a pedestrian place. There are times of the day and days of the week in which that section could be closed, and maybe even the entire street could be closed. This isn’t a new idea, and there are examples all over the country of where this is very successful. It’s really a matter of changing the mindset of people and forcing them to consider that things can work differently.”
So what do you think High Street could be if it could be anything at all? Send us your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll share them with city leaders.