Africatown Plaza is an opportunity to restore communities fragmented by displacement through the creation of architecture, landscape, and urban design
that celebrates history and identity.
The Central District and Africatown
From the late 1800s through today, African-Americans have made significant contributions to the architecture of the Central District that is an expression of African and African-American culture. From its community building with events that focus on finance, technology and literacy to its focus on getting the people of the Central District to reclaim and own their part of Seattle, Africatown is a continuation of that legacy.
Community Centered Design
Africatown Plaza honors the concept of African American place making. Holding a series of design
workshops, two stake holder meetings and two community meetings, with current and former
residents of the Central District, the design team synthesized what the community envisioned. The result was a community-centric ground floor, concept and form. The ground floor achieves this by strategically placing programmatic elements in locations that would reinforce place making and support meaningful interaction between residents of the building and Africatown.
Themes that we heard were some of the following:
• Balance of apartments
• Green space
• Small businesses
• Emphasize plaza
• Activate 24th Avenue and Spring Street
• Multiple building entrances
• Open plaza
• Emphasize through connection
• Importance of 23rd Avenue
• Green space along 23rd Avenue
• Parklets on corner
• Play area/stage
• Access off 24th Avenue
• Multiple points of entry to the site
• Places to sit
• Flexible courtyard uses
• Joining of building
• Emphasize community
Input from the community was vital. By allowing the community members to partake in the design process they were able to share their stories and voices in not only what they wanted to see but also how they wanted to experience the site. When we overlaid the programmatic elements we were able to see clusters of the program emerge. This informed our design process and together, we began to carve and create space.
• Restore the community fragmented by displacement with interior and exterior spaces for events, connection and story telling
• Create flexible spaces for the changing needs of the community
• Create an iconic building form and spaces
• Utilize textures, symbols, patterns and shapes that are inspired by Afrocentric Design
• Activate ground level uses to provide a place for the community to thrive, celebrate culture, history and identity
All of Seattle’s residents, regardless of income, need a place to have a voice, a place that speaks to their specific culture, and a place where they can thrive with equal access to economic opportunity. Africatown Plaza is that place.
Developing Design Options
OPTION 03 (PREFERRED): “THE TREE”
“Water is necessary…water is life”. Influenced by these words from the community, this preferred design option celebrates organic symbols that can be traced back to African and Afrocentric design. Entry courtyard contains an art/water feature that represents the “origin” or “source” of water, an essential element for tree growth. The idea of water flow is symbolically allowed to erode and shape Africatown Plaza. Community stage is intended to be a flexible space that can accommodate multi-generational members of the community. Diverse and adaptive plant species from Africa further strengthen the vibrant identity of African American and African neighborhood in Central District.