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Community Open Space Initiatives: Nihonmachi

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Monster Stair

Paul Chasan

This project proposes a staircase that serves as a new entrance and gateway into Danny Woo Gar- dens at the intersec- tion of Main Street and Maynard Ave South. The attempts to solve the design problems associated with the site physi- cally and metaphorically.

Concept Sketches

Context

The site is located on a steep slope with a forty foot grade change in Seattle’s historic Nihonmachi (Little Japan) which in turn is a subset of the Chinatown/In- ternational District neighborhood. Danny Woo garden is a community gardening space popular with elderly residents in the neighborhood. Recently the garden has been plagued with significant public safety and social issues as it is regularly frequented by hard drug users. Finally Nihonmachi itself was the historic cen- ter of Seattle’s Japanese immigrant community. The neighborhood was decimated during the internment of the Japanese in World War II and has never recov- ered its economic vitality nor its residential population since that time. Vacant buildings and parking lots are commonplace. The well-crafted but poorly maintained historic architecture creates spaces that put one into an introspective mood, not necessarily pensive, but a mood of deep thought and reflection. Given the blighted conditions, the city has been trying to spur economic investment in the area. The proposed staircase would

continue the axis of Maynard Ave S. into the park. This would provide views down Maynard Ave and into the district and allow pedestrians on the street to see into the park making it a watched space. Also by providing a siz- able entrance at the street terminus, the new stairway would highlight the parks’ presence and draw people in from the neighborhood.

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