done by Rej Simenson towards completion of Master's Thesis
. /- i t .
iSTATEMENT OF THESIS
I * " *
[PROBLEM STATEMENT i
[My thesis is concerned with the treatment of urban design relationships with the introduction of mass transportation to the existing activity center of jlittleton.
I have chosen Littleton for my thesis project due to three main factors:
- the Kellog Foundation study proposal for the depression of the railway through Littleton*
. the Regional Transportation District
proposal for fixed rail transit with a station in Littleton* and
- the designation of central Littleton as a regional activity center by the: Denver Regional Council of Gover-ments.
These recent developments combine to create an opportune time to: coordinate the development and revitalization of
!an activity center with the development of transit systems.
[! IMPORTANCE ......
; The coordination and joint timing of i the development of depressed railways, a transit node, and an activity center that are keyed to the community and its needs could increase their value as an urban design influence to strengthen and revitalze central Littleton,
;I plan to develop a design for the I Littleton transportation center providing for the development of interrelationships and links between transportation and the community while con-itributing to the overall urban design strength of the area.
|This brings out the central theme of |this urban design study. Central ;Littleton's future lies in strengthening its role as an activity center. aAs defined by The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRGOG), an activity center is "an area with an intensive mix of urban activities. Regional activity centers are multipurpose centers in thaAt they may include residential, employment, commercial, recreational, medical, cultural# governmental and educational activities.
Each center should conatin at a minimum .
significant levels of intense residen-
!tial, employment and commercial activity.
I An activity center should cover a relatively small geographical area."
! i. '
|This concept does not mean competing with the shopping malls for their type of business or dotting the main street with highrises. It does mean developing the central downtown area into a variety of mixed uses that offer something for all residents of Littleton, iThereby creating in the center of Littleton an activity center.
Major participants in this opportunity | for urban design ares
-the City of Littleton Government}
- the citizens of Littletoni
- the Regional Transportation District}
- the State of Colorado}
- the Denver Regional Council of Governments}
- the Urban Mass Transportation Administration} and
- the Energy Research and Development Administration.
ANALYSIS OIF PROBLEM
The objective of this urban design analysis is to examine the central area in Littleton and attempt to discover or isolate those elements which have the potential to contribute to a better urban environment. These elements will then be utilized to generate a range of design alternatives.
There are several scales from regional context to specific site analysis at which the urban design analysis will occur, including:
- Macro Scale. Analysis of central Littleton within the regional context of metropolitan Denver. Define the regional influences on central Littleton and Littleton's role in the metropolitan Denver transit fabric. This will generate input into the development of goals.
- Micro Scale. Analysis of the inter- j relationships of urban elements within central Littleton. Define the relationship between elements and the role of transportation in Littleton. This will generate input into the development of objectives and criteria.
- Focus, Analysis of potential sites suitable for transportation development. Define and categorize adjacent land uses, links to the community, and impact of development of the site on the surrounding environment. This- will generate input into the development of design criteria.
| FRAME, FABRIC, FUNCTION ANALYSIS
Central Littleton and the designated site was examined by means of the Frame, Fabric, and Function method of urban design analysis.
utilized in this project not intended to be a complete listing
the skeleton of the urban areai in other words those physical elements which give it definition.
edgesi barriersj nodesj circulationj opportunities.
context that spaces and buildings create | masslng) rythym, siting, greenspaces,
;by massing, materials and scale or the pedestrian links, containment, holes, lack of ,any of'i;hese elements.
consists of a series of related activities and uses necessary for people to carry out their daily activities comfortably and efficiently and for the region to smoothly respond to needs in its capacity
usesj activities, relationships! economics} government) education) pedestrian experiences) traffic movements) links.
The mosi critical urban frame elements to this thesis are circulation and edges.
Circulation on a macro scale defines Littleton as a crossroad for the southwest quadrant of metro Denver. A great deal of new traffic generated by suburban growth will be funneled through central Littleton. Traffic volumes on the major arteries in the area are steadily increasing. The main auto-oriented circulation paths of Santa Fe Drive, Prince Street, Alamo Avenue, and Main Street are already congested.
The increase of traffic volumes on these arteries while providing for cross town traffic is choking circulation patterns within Littleton itself.
To improve circulation within the micro scale of central Littleton the cross
town auto traffic must be reduced.
Interception of suburban traffic from their principal routes and transfering ;them onto a mass transportation network would be one way of reducing auto traffic.
Pedestrian circulation in central Littleton exists mainly within two blocks of the major activity nodes of Littleton Center, Main Street in downtown Littleton and Arapahoe Community College (ACC). There is no continous pedestrian traffic or developed pedes-trian systems throughout central Littleton.
Circulation within the transit site itself will have to coordinate pedestrian, auto, bus and fixed rail transit movements with a minimum of conflict. Since the main purpose of this transportation center is to move people, the site should be pedestrian oriented while still providing for quick and efficient means of moving the people in various transportation modes.
Edges defining the Littleton Activity Center include Littleton Center and the Arapahoe County Administration Building to the north, Arapahoe Community College to the south, the railroad corridor and Arapahoe County Courthouse to the east, and Santa Fe Drive to the west.
Elements critical to analysing the urban fabric of the area include greenspaces, massing, and the relationships .between the varieties of individual fabrics.
Fabrics differ considerably within central Littleton. The downtown area has a special fabric made up of several individual brick buildings on 25 to 50 foot lots and two to three stories high. The construction methods and styles are typical of those utilized around 1910. This fabric differs from the fabric of Arapahoe Community College which consists of one massive concrete structure.
This in turn differs from the Arapahoe County Administrative Building. This is a glass box built on a massive scale not limited by 100 foot lot lines.
The oniy piece of land that runs continuously among these various nodes is the railroad right-of-way. This right-of-way is linear in nature with the railroad tracks and open spaces defining the fabric. It is also the key to uniting the various urban design fabrics found in central Littleton.
ten it hi if Hi i D]
The three most important elements of
!the urban function analysis are busi-
ness, education, and government. There is a lack of interaction among these three main functions.
Studies have shown that Arapahoe Community College students seldom go to downtown Littleton. The opportunity
ifor interaction exists but there is no catalyst to promote such a relationship. Students connot get downtown efficiently nor is there any particular shopping or business or residential lure to make them want to go downtown.
!Other functions are needed to help develop and maintain the activity center of central Littleton. Central Littleton has business, government, and education functions but it needs residential units (particularly student housing), office space, mass transportation, and addi -. tional parking to complement the existing uses.. This mix of functions could
add to the vitality of the activity
The automobile does not function well within central Littleton. Traffic patterns are organized more for cross town flow rather than focusing on downtown Littleton as a destination. Also there isn't a well organized parking plan for the area. There is scattered parking throughout the area yet there still isn't enough to make the downtown area attractive for shopping. The automobile consumes too much land in the activity center both for parking and circulation, stiffling the efficient functioning of more people oriented activities.
Xtte __ V
Optimize use of existing downtown Littleton.
Develop a transportation center to complement and strengthen urban design within the Littleton activity center.
Develop an urban^ design framework to guide the development of positive contributions in the transit corridor.
Develop a transportation node providing:
- quick, easily obtainable, and comfortable transportation!
- regional, interregional, and local transportation! and
- a variety of transportation modes.
Unify divergent fabrics within the activity center.
Develop an activity center that provides! "a concentration of activities, fosters ia wide variety of activity types, and 1 suggests the unique character of the j region.
OBJECTIVES ' .............
! . o
Utilize physical elements in a way that preserves Littletons character.
Create additional pedestrian links between activity center nodes.
j Blend fabric of the railroad right-of-way to existing fabric of the surround-; ing area.
j Fit transit into the Littleton neighborhood and activity center while serving local residents.
Explore joint development opportunities | on transit station site to offset capi- tal investments in transit and provide a variety of activities within the station surroundings.
Develop a transit station in central Littleton in contrast to a park-n-ride.
; Preserve significant historic structures.
Orient transportation to activity center.
Do not increase traffic volumes on Main Street, Prince Street, or Alamo | Avenue.
Provide maximum multi-purpose use of the railroad right-of-way.
Transportation can compliment urban design within the Littleton Activity Center in the areas of frame, fabric and function.
The urban frame area can be complimented byi
- adding a gateway or sense of arrival to central Littleton;
- removing a barrier while retaining the traditional boundary (edge)j
- making access to and within Littleter more pleasant and fast; and
- returning a traditional transportation link to Littleton.
The urban fabric area can be complimented byi
- development of controls (imposed by RTD on properties they own and lease to others) to hold building to
a scale and size and character that is compatible to with Littleton;
- providing interior links to tie together the diverse fabrics of the Littleton Activity Center,
- providing green space for relaxation and relief to the busy fabric; and
- using a common denominator material
such as brick.
The urban function area can be complimented byj
v tieing together and promoting interaction and proximity of activity center functions; and
- adding a wider variety of functions to the Littleton Activity Center.
Work within the existing comprehensive plan of Littleton.
Retain sight vista along Main Street between the Library and the County Courthouse.
Link railroad corridor to the surrounding community.
Accomodate a variety of transportation modes within the transit center.
Visibly shield all parking from other activity areas.
Provide direct and simple routes into and out of the transit center.
Coordinate and share parking between site uses.
Provide easy access between buildings and parking areas.
Provide a parking system that is easily understandible to all users.
Provide parking that is appropriate for an activity center.
!Provide interior links between different activity nodes on the site.
Provide links between the site and the community.
Provide greenspaces that act as a relief from built up areas and provide a unifying element.
Provide entrances that do not conflict with major traffic routes.
Provide direct and simplified access to the transportation center.
Make use of a variety of transportation modes.
Provide people oriented activities.
Provide steady user groups for tlie transportation station.
Make use of office plan module of
5 feet by 5 feet.
Have a clear span at 25 to 35 feet or more.
One of the major building criteria is building efficiency'which is determined by dividing the rentable square footage by the total square footage resulting in the percent efficiency.
One elevator per 25,000 square feet is required.
Minimum elevator lobby dimensions are
6 feet to 9 feet wide.
Cooridors must be between 5 to 6 fe&t wide.
Distance between floors is 12 feet
- TRANSIT STATION PROG RAMMING
The rapid transit station has three major functional areas
1) Station entrances and surface transit facilities
2) Control and fare collection areas ,
3) Transit platform
, Yi *
Vehicle description powered by convene
tional electric motors, will ;be 36 feet long, 8 feet wide, 10 feet high and weigh 29,000 pounds empty. Requires a 26 foot right-of way.
Station should be light and airy with a minimum necessary enclosure
Station should function efficiently and be oriented to user conveniences.
Station should be compatible with and an asset to community requirements,
Station should have the flexibility to expand or be modified
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The central Littleton transit station has two possible roles it could | fulfilli
- a park-n-ride for developing suburbs! or
- a multi-modal station serving Littleton and the area immediately surrounding it as a vital part of the activity center.
However, the role as a park-n-ride Is limited by:
- no space for expansion of parking beyond 2,000 to 5*000 spacesi
- the established character of the Central area which is in conflict with the concept of a park-n-ride!
- the critical traffic congestion problem in central Littleton which would deteriorate even further with an increase of traffic volumes generated by a park-n-ride.
!Therefore, the transit station should
not have as its primary role a park-n-ride facility. This could be one element of the station but emphasis should be placed on other modes arid types of transportation.
The site selection process was influenced by three main factorsi accessibility! local preference! and environmental limitations. For economic reasons the station site will remain within the existing railroad corridor right-of-way.
There are a total of five sites that have potential for the development of a transit station. Two of the outlying sites are undesirable because they are not centrally located. If developed these sites could actually detract from the development of the activity center.
A third site, Bega Park, is undesirable for several reasons. Citizens and government officials want this site to remain a park. As a park it is protected from development for other uses if federal money is involved unless there is no other feasible alternative. There are other feasible alternatives. Also this site lacks adequate space for development of a transit station.
The remaining two sites are both centrally located and accessible. Both could function as a station site. However, the southern site is located within the South Platte River flood plain which places limitations on deVelopment. The northern site is the prefered site of the citizens, local government officials and RTD.
This site also appears to be the most accessible. This site is located between Powers and Main Street within the railroad corridor and is the site selected for development in this project.
The existing railroad tracks provide an
edge defining the downtown area which is important to retain. This edge holds a number of urban design advantages that help maintain a more pedestrian fabric to Main Street by defining a boundary to the downtown area. On the other side of this edge is Littleton Boulevard which has an auto oriented fabric. To allow a leakage of the auto oriented fabric into the pedestrian oriented fabric could damage the vitality of Main Street.
This site has a number of development criteria and restrictions zones. There is a 40 foot maximum height restriction covering Main Street that I have extended into the railroad corridor. A vista zone crossing the site in a line going down Main Street between the Library
and the County Courthouse must remain
One of the most important considerations in developing this site is the depression and covering of the two transit lines. These underground rail lines will be located in approximately the center of the right-of-way.
Circulation routes are central to the development of the transit site. The needs of the auto must be considered but other transportation modes must also be considered including pedestrians.
An activity center transit station is not a park-n-ride stop intended to intercept suburbanites on principal routes and transfer them onto a mass transit vehicle. An activity center transit station should be centrally located and more pedestrian oriented with efficient local and regional transit connections. Therefore some inconvien-iences are acceptable and inherent in the station type.
Major commuter traffic will be intercepted by the Jackass Hill Road Park-N-Ride south of Littleton on Santa Fe Drive and at the Englewood Transit station north of Littleton. This should ease traffic circulation in the central area.
Routes to the site are complicated by
the fact that Main and Alama are a one
way pair that reconect on the railroad right-of-way.
In Littleton transit station service area access is provided by the following major routesi
- From the south Santa Fe Drive
to Rio Grande to the west entrance (leave by reverse) ,
- From the north -- Santa Fe Drive to Prince to Powers to Rio Grande to west entrance (leave by Main)
- From the east -- Littleton Boule-varde to Main Street to entrance (leave by Main to Rio Grande to Prince)
- From the west Alamo to Rio Grande to west entrance (leave by
Rio Grande to Main)
The addition of Rio Grande diverts traffic to and from the station from Main Street, Alamo Avenue and Prince Street. Once on the site circulation is organized to provide direct and quick access to parking areas or drop off lanes.
Utilizing the goals, objectives, and criteria for developing the transit station several alternative designs were generated. After analyzing the alternatives it became evident that some v/ere undesirable and did not promote the vitality of the activity center.
One such alternate utilized surface parking to meet parking needs. This alternate is not visually acceptable and would be poor utilization of the land. Also there is simply not enough surface area available to develop an acceptable number of parking spaces without utilizing the entire site.
Another alternate considered an above ground parking structure. However, the parking structure would dominate the site if adequate parking was provided.
A third alternate considered the utilization of the railroad right-of-way and an adjacent block ( the block upon which the fire station is located). While this wduld provide adequate parking it would make poor use of land which could be developed to enhance the activity center.
The optimal design layers activities upon the site. This makes use of a grade rise on the site. Parking is provided below ground in two lower i levels. The surface will be utilized for a linear park in addition to the transit station and joint development. There will be some surface parking connected with the station as a loading area. There will also be some surface parking connected with the joint development areas.
The station of necessity will be located directly above the depressed transit lines. Circulation around the station will separate various travel inodes. A covered pedestrian walkway will separate auto and bus traffic lanes allowing passenger flow to the north and south.
By creating underground parking levels some surface area is made available for joint development. Moderate income housing and office space are two func-i tions which would compliment the exist-1 ing functions in the central area.
These functions will benefit the activity center by providing a good mix of functions that are necessary for an activity center. Also each function can reinforce the transit station by providing users.
The parking levels are developed for use in conjunction with the transit station, office structures and residential units. However, the parking system must be designed to provide for various parking zones (long and short terra, transit, office worker, and resident) within a clearly defined directional system, !.
Level B-l is exclusively for the use of j the office building and can be entered | off of the office building surface park-j ing lot. Level B-2 is for transit patrons. It can be entered directly off of Main Street or Rio Grande or. through level B-l. Level B-3 is also for transit patrons and can be entered only through level B-2.
Parking can also be expanded by adding outlying parking on community circulator routes or expanding parking levels to the north in the railroad corridor.
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I have designed the Littleton Community Transportation Center station as an important ingredient in the revitalization of the Littleton1 Activity Center. This concept deviates in many ways from the very strict guidelines laid down for most transit stations.
Guidelines for suburban stations call for large areas of parking on cheap land with additional land also available Also most suburban guidelines call for
an at grade or aerial station. The
Littleton station differs on both counts by being located in an existing downtown
area. Cheap parking is unavailable so
parking must go in a structure. By taking advantage of an opportunity to go underground, the littleton station has become a sensitive atypical handling of the outlying station problem.
The orientation provides easy access for
many transportation modes with a minimum
number of conflicts. The station is accessible by foot, by bicycle, taxi, private auto, community circulator bus, regional bus and fixed rail transit.
This multi-modal access is one of the primary characteristics that distinguish this station from a park and ride facility. Most park and ride facilities are accessible primarily by auto
The station is located toward the west
side of the site facing the central business district. This orientation will help make the transit station an Integral part rather than an isolated Independent element.
This multi-modal access is one of the primary characteristics that distinguish this station from a park and ride facility. Most park and ride facilities are accessible primarily by auto or bus.
Pedestrian access to the station is provided by a network of pedestrian/bicycle paths linking the station to the surr-r ounding area. The station is within easy walking distance from almost any point within the activity center. For example it is approximately a four minute walk from Arapahoe Community College or Littleton Center to the station. One enters the station by a covered pedestrian walkway that will connect with a future mid-block walkway accross Rio Grande. The interior path system on the site also connects to the rtransit station entrance. This will strengthen interaction links within the
Located at the intersection of several major streets the station is also easily accessible to motorized vehicles.
Access to parking structures is provided off Main Street and Rio Grande. From the parking areas (Levels B-2 and B-3) stairs and elevators provide access to the transit station itself. No parking space is further than 325 feet from the station ent ranee.
A passenger loading area is also provided on the south side of the pedestr&in walkway, To the north of the walkway is the pickup and drop-off area for buses. Auto, bus and pedestrain traffic are seperated to minimize conflicts and increase safely.
The station is constructed in the common 'fabric vocabulary of the area brick and it is within the height limitations of the surrounding area fabric. The building is designed to blend in and compliment the surroundings. It does provide interest and demands attention but it is not so outstated as to dominate the cityscape over other landmark elements.
One enters the station through a large open lobby. This area is provided for information and purchasing transit tickets. The area is decorated with wall graphics displaying various routes and destination points. Tickets are purchased from an automatic vendor.
After obtaining a fare the user passes thru the faregates into the transportation concourse. This interior space is skylighted and is constructed using a clearspan. This gives the station a flight, open and pleasant atmosphere. Again there are wall graphics to guide passengers to the transit platforms below the lobby. There are three modes provided to descend or rise from the platform elevators, escalators and stairs.
The platform is skylighted from above to avoid the dark, depressed atmosphere associated with below ground transit a areas. There are two center platforms designed in a flip-flop plan, which offers more flexibility in loading and passing.
Two transit vehicles, headed in the same direction can be stopped at the platform at any one time. Then either vehicle may move without the other leaving. The passenger boards the transit vehicle and leaves Littleton for another desitnation.
The transit route, while underground at the Littleton station to minimize environmental damage to the activity center (visual, noise pollution or disruption of activities) will be aerial in other areas.
The station is designed to be flexible and expandible to allow for additional growth or adaptation to changing travel modes.
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The objective of adding joint development uses to the transportation center in Littleton are:
- to provide user groups for the transit center
- to provide another means of economic return for development of the site besides transit.
- to provide a concentration of a variety of activities, to compliment the existing activities within central Littleton.
Office space and moderate income housing are the activities most compatible with the transportation center. These acti activities will add dimension and vitality to the activity center by providing a wider mix of activities than currently exist while benefitting the transit station by providing user groups.
The office complex and residential areas are coordinated to the transit station. Location of the structures is determined by: the urban design objective of retaining an edge to the downtown area; the need to retain the open space vista zone between downtown and the County Courthouse; the site dimensions;and circulation patterns. The transit station is the key pivot element in the center focus of traffic patterns. The office complex is located to the east of the station and is oriented towards the County Courthouse. A parking areg. and access to lower parking levels is in front of the offices. The residential units are located close to the newly expanded residential street of Powers. They are removed from the bustle of the transit station and Main Street. Individual parking is provided for the residents. Parking is coordinated among these uses so that if it is not needed for one use it can be utilized to absorb overflow parking from other uses.
All of these uses coordinate to form a soft edge to downtown Littleton. This edge retains the pedestrian character of the activity center while still allowing surrounding neighborhoods links into the transit center and the activity center.
This office and residential mix will add round the clock and regular use of the transit station. Office use contributes to the use of the station as a daytime destination. Residential use contributes people around the station and grounds at all hours. Together these uses add concentration something an activity center station strives to foster.
1. Dept, of Community Development, City of Littleton, Colorado, Central Area Neighborhood Information. June 1975.
2. Dept, of Community Development, City of Littleton, Colorado,
An Economic Analysis of Littleton September 1975.
3. Arapahoe Community College Center for Community Development Downtown/ ACC Interaction Survey Day 1977.
L. Alan M. Voorhees and Assoc., Western Arapahoe Transportation Study Littleton Supplement September 1972
5. City of Littleton The Littleton Railroad Corridor. A Position Statement September 1977.
6. Dike Bower Adaptive Re-Use of Littleton Town Hall, An Urban Design Study May 1977.
7. The Littleton City Planning Commission A Comprehensive Plan for the City of Littleton. Colorado November 1958.
8. Dept, of Community Development, Progress Park Neighborhood Information June 1975.
9. Urban Planning Consultants, Central Area Design Study. 1966.
10.. Transportation Research Institute, Carnegie-Mellon University
Transit Station Planning and DesigntState of the Art, April 1976.
11. Institute of Rapid Transit, Guidelines and Principles for Design of Rapid Transit Facilities, May 1973.
127. UtSt.Dept7'roÂ£u5?rahsJ)6rtation, Characteristics of Urban Transportst ation Systems, 197^.
13. RTD Environmental Impact Statement
14. RTD Transit Stations and Alingments: Architecture and Urban Design. Cycle 5 May 1975.
16. Denver Regional Council of Governments, Regional Development Policies. May 1977.
17. Dept, of Community Development, Central Area Neighborhood Policy Plan. Actober 1976.