Public Realm Perspective

Meet Liz:

Pioneer Square has an unprecedented number of projects impacting the public realm: reclaiming alleys, redesigning streets and parks, fixing curbs and medians, waterfront, parking, and bike lanes. All this and more are all-in-a-day’s work for Liz Stenning, our Deputy Director. A friendly and familiar face in the neighborhood, Liz is all about ongoing improvements to our public realm from curb cuts to crosswalks.

Main and 1st Ave S:

Liz stands near the corner of Main St and 1st Ave S on a sunny late-spring afternoon, with the soon-to-be-demolished Alaskan Way Viaduct in the background behind her. Liz points out the newly installed spring/summer flower baskets along the exterior of the Grand Central building. “You know summertime has arrived when the refreshed flower baskets are installed,” Liz exclaims. These vibrant flower baskets can be found throughout Pioneer Square, you just simply have to look up and around. Did you know the colorful flower baskets have been a feature of the neighborhood for many years?

Pioneer Square’s hanging flower baskets:

Flashback to 1984- Frankie Goes to Hollywood tells the world to “Relax” and Prince gifts the world with “Purple Rain.” In the same year, City Planters is established to serve the Pioneer Square Business Improvement Area. City Planters persuaded property managers, managers, and retail merchants that hanging flowering planters would enhance their retail area. Flash-forward to 2019, City Planters continues to beautify the Pioneer Square neighborhood with their planters, with both fall/winter and spring/summer planter baskets. The planter baskets are cultivated over a six month process in a greenhouse at City Planters HQ, with special attention paid to the location of the planters- be that full sun or partial shade. City Planters’ work does not stop at delivery of the planters. Each day, you are likely to see a City Planters representative servicing the numerous hanging flower planters throughout the neighborhood. Be sure to say hi, and pass on your admiration for the flowers and the folks who service them! In addition to the London Plane trees which line pedestrian and vehicular passageways, the purple prism glass nested inside the sidewalks shining light into the neighborhood’s underground history, and the historic three globe light poles illuminating the neighborhood’s streets from dusk until dawn, the hanging flower baskets are an essential feature of Pioneer Square’s history and future.

Liz this week:

Many individuals in the neighborhood are highly anticipating the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Constructed between 1950 and 1959, the Alaskan Way Viaduct is presently being demolished block by block by Kiewit Infrastructure West Company. Pioneer Square can expect some parking to be removed and construction staging to begin next week, as Kiewit prepares to bring in the “chomper” and begin demolition of the southern portion of the Alaskan Way Viaduct later in -June. “I can really notice the reduction in the hum of traffic noise,” Liz comments on the immediate impact of closing down the Alaskan Way Viaduct to vehicular travel. Liz would know- each week she walks the current Alaskan Way Viaduct structure with members of Kiewit and other stakeholders, watching with detail and providing input on access and site conditions. Liz will continue to be involved with the Alaskan Way Viaduct demolition until the structure is completely removed. “Once the demolition is complete, Pioneer Square will see new opportunities and even better views of the Puget Sound,” Liz posits. Did someone say Via-gone?

Interested in learning more about how the Alaskan Way Viaduct demolition will impact Pioneer Square? Attend an Alliance for Pioneer Square WSDOT monthly meeting- our next event is on May 29th from 12-1PM at the TK Building. Can’t attend? Watch our walking tour of the Alaskan Way Viaduct demolition site with Kiewit and WSDOT and sign up for WSDOT’s Viaduct demolition weekly construction update email newsletter.