M-1 Corridor: Informal Gathering Spaces

Bernasconi, Claudia, Utpal Dutta, Benjamin Castiglione, Robert Jess, Patrycja Sakowska, and Eric Marcero

The new proposed lightrail system on the Woodward Corridor represents a great opportunity for increased pedestrian usage of public space. The scope of this study is to understand public perception of the M-1 urban corridor, with particular reference to existing public spaces and informal gathering spaces and to areas contiguous to the proposed stations. An underlining goal of this project is to document and present the public’s perspective on the Woodward corridor through the mapping of usage of the space and through the recording of opinions and thoughts about existing and future places along the corridor. Objectives within the focus of the study are: 1) to understand the use of place through extensive mapping, 2) to assess correlates between of public usage an opinions and characteristics of the corridor, 3) to identify which aesthetic features and spatial characteristics promote social interaction and 4) to define design recommendations in relation to station location for the future lightrail and streetscape design of areas adjacent to the stations. 

Methods involved in the study included literature review, on site observations, mapping, development and administration of questionnaire gathering socio-demographic data. Groups of students conducted audits surveying the levels and types of activities, site amenities, and building use along Woodward Avenue from Downtown (Jefferson) north to the New Center Area (Grand Blvd) in Detroit, MI. The types of activities recorded were sitting, standing, eating, bicycling, running, and walking. Site amenities recorded were benches, trash bins, street signs, bus stops, trees, and traffic lights.

Outcomes of the study will be summarized together with a documentation of existing patterns in usage of places along Woodward. This research provides for increased knowledge and tools in the environmental perception, behavioral and the transportation planning research fields, and will investigate opportunities for further intersections between the fields. An additional outcome of the project is the public involvement in the M-1 corridor design towards the promotion of more participatory design.