And, thanks to a bold design from Sasaki Associates, it is going to be full of appealing features, among them an event lawn, an amphitheater and a cantilevered bridge and overlook of Doan Brook.
The 450,000-square-foot project spans three major thoroughfares – East Boulevard, Martin Luther King (MLK) Boulevard and East 105th Street – and a section of Doan Brook, so planners had to find a way to move people across those features safely.
“Initially, there was to be a bridge over the brook and roads,” said Irwin Lowenstein, president of ReThink Advisors Inc. and the university’s advising architect, “but we believed taking people over the park, instead of through it, was antithetical to the idea of enjoying the space.”
The challenge was to devise a plan which, in Lowenstein’s words, “made pedestrians more important than cars.”
University consultants performed traffic studies for MLK Boulevard and East 105th Street, with slightly surprising results: “We discovered the volume of traffic wouldn’t concern us, but the speed of traffic along there was an issue,” he said.
Those streets were actually designed so that cars could get through the intersections quickly; the roadways are wide and there are no traffic lights to slow down the vehicles on them. The primary solution at MLK and East 105th is creating an extra-wide crosswalk, new curb cuts and striping, and installing a traffic light.
That way, Lowenstein said, “cars will have to stop for pedestrians.”
MLK also will be narrowed in the area of the greenway to eliminate parking lanes where stationary cars might obstruct drivers’ views of pedestrians (or pedestrians’ views of moving vehicles). This portion of the roadway also will feature pedestrian-activated warnings.
“With just two lanes in each direction, it will be a fairly narrow street,” Lowenstein explained. “That will slow cars and, with no parallel parking, make for better visibility for pedestrians.”
East Boulevard won’t be narrowed because art museum patrons need parallel parking, but pedestrian-activated warning signals will be added.
Timing also is an issue for new trees. “About 180 trees will be removed for safety – they’re not healthy, or are somehow compromised – and more than 270 new trees will be planted,” Lowenstein said. “That was worked into the schedule, too.”
No landmarks will be demolished for the Greenway; the only building affected by construction is a small maintenance building, used during the art museum’s expansion, that’s no longer used.
Planners are juggling construction schedules, insurance issues and legal details. “The land is owned by the City and leased by the Museum of Art and the university, so it’s complicated,” Lowenstein said.
But they are staying true to their original vision: an urban meadow with flowers, foliage and walking paths. And details have been carefully thought out, with bike racks, benches and even retaining walls that will be the right height for sitting and getting up easily.
Judson residents already have unique access to programs at Case Western Reserve and the Maltz Performing Arts Center because of their close proximity. When the Nord Family Greenway opens in spring of 2018, it will be even easier – and aesthetically satisfying – to get to their favorite programs, or just relax in the sunshine.
“It will be just gorgeous,” Lowenstein said.