Saturday afternoon in the Monona Commons lecture hall featured a very insightful panel helping discuss and judge proposals for the Union Corners development in Madison. A number of plans were submitted for the AuthentiCITY competition, and the Woonerf plan came away as the winner.
AuthentiCITY at CNU 19 featured Union Corners, a large and very prominent redevelopment site on East Washington, the major throughfare through Madison’s east side. The recession halted a previous plan for the site, which is now city-owned. CNU seized on this important opportunity to host a contest for designs for the site to be reviewed by prominent new urbanists as a way to help the city create a strong vision for Union Corners.
A panel of local and national stakeholders and experts provided a very thoughtful discussion of the various finalists’ plans, which included submissions by firms and students. Taken in to account were a variety of issues, including pedestrian connectivity, an attractive street edge along East Washington, open space, density and sensitivity to surrounding land uses, and location of a possible rail station.
Although the Woonerf plan, courtesy of Canin Associates of Orlando, FL, won, a number of aspects of various submitted plans could well wind up in the eventual development of the site. Perhaps most interesting was a runner-up’s proposal for a public plaza along East Washington. Several locals didn’t like a public space along a major roadway for noise and air quaility reasons, whereas a couple panelists spoke out in favor of the idea, citing national and international examples of vibrant public plazas near major roadways that mitigate noise somewhat but benefit from the proximity and traffic from the nearby street, as they get more use that way.
Overall, AuthentiCITY provided a stage for very creative designs and a tremendous value for the efforts of the city of Madison to develop the Union Corners site.