Downtown Ann Arbor Street Design

Ann Arbor Street Design SmithGroup landscape architecture mobility
Ann Arbor Street Design SmithGroup landscape architecture mobility bike lanes
Ann Arbor Street Design Fifth and Detroit SmithGroup Urban Design Mobility
Ann Arbor Street Design Fifth and Detroit SmithGroup Urban Design Mobility

With the goal of creating more “people friendly streets,” the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority partnered with SmithGroup’s interdisciplinary teams on complete street projects that are reshaping the downtown experience and forging a more sustainable, resilient and equitable transportation network.

Client

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority

Location

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Markets/Services

Active Transportation & Mobility, Civil Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design, Urban Environments

In 2013, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA) partnered with SmithGroup to examine how connectivity and safety for all people could be improved throughout the 67-block downtown area. The planning process required extensive public and stakeholder engagement, as well as a thorough, researched analysis of the City’s mobility systems. The result of this effort was creation of the city’s first Downtown Street Framework Plan and Design Manual, which set the stage for a comprehensive overhaul of downtown streets.

In subsequent years, SmithGroup has continued to work with the DDA to implement several “people-friendly street” projects that built on the initial framework plan. The people-friendly streets approach informs all aspects of the projects: All users—no matter their age, their ability, their income or their mode of travel—should have safe and equitable access to the public streets we share.

 

Ann Arbor Street Design SmithGroup landscape architecture mobility

The projects demanded a broad range of skills, from planning and civil engineering to lighting and landscape architecture. Understanding the community’s values guided each street design project, with substantial public outreach and engagement at each step in the process.

 

The Fifth and Detroit Street Project sought to reinvent the confluence point of a bustling local business district, farmer’s market, high-school, and major thoroughfare. People needed critical safety and comfort improvements to a two-lane, one-way street routinely crossed by students, shoppers and business patrons. The resulting design transformed the entire street with an innovative green boulevard, plaza spaces, and multiple crossing points, which creates a pedestrian-centric space that vehicles travel through in a slow and controlled manner. It completely altered the character of the corridor, changing it from a frenetic thoroughfare to a celebrated, calm street environment.

 

Ann Arbor Street Design SmithGroup landscape architecture mobility bike lanes

The First and Ashley Street project restored a pair of one-way streets back to two-way travel, improving safety while enlivening the streetscape environment. The design incorporates a fully separated two-way bikeway, buffered from the vehicle lane with a green landscaped bioswale, which captures and filters stormwater before sending it to infiltration vaults.

 

This project was coupled to the William Street Bikeway project, which was the city’s first separated two-way bikeway and one of the first two-way urban bikeways in the state. Collectively these street projects are central to building a complete mobility network in downtown, accessible by people of all ages and abilities.

Although transportation changes can often be fraught with controversy, Ann Arbor has a strong record of success in improving its streets. Because the designs were driven by thorough community engagement, national practice, local expertise, and insightful data analysis, they reflect the community’s overarching values that all people have safe and equitable access to city streets and community destinations.