Sunday, July 20, 2014

Changes to Fresno High campus look good (photo update)

I wasn't familiar with Fresno High until P de Q opened a couple of years ago across the street. They're a bakery that makes delicious Brazilian cheese bread, or Pao de Queijo. Aside from enjoying delicious bread, visiting the bakery introduced me to Fresno High, which has a beautiful main building. I also noticed major construction underway.

The project involved blowing up two bunker buildings, that ruin the architecture, and build new ones off to the side in a complementary architectural style. The bunkers used to block the view of the historic building.


You can see the buildings overhead here

 photo high1_zps622fe726.png
I did a construction update in January of 2013 when the new buildings were going up, but the old ones were still there. Well last month I stopped by, and construction has ended.

Here's what it looks like now

 photo high2_zpsc4411a63.png

Let's take a closer look.

The new buildings are modern, but take cues from the original style

 photo DSC00027_zpsdd20af0c.jpg

This is seen from the end at Weldon. The sidewalk got work too, adding that planting area. Unfortunately they left a ridiculous pole blocking the sidewalk.

 photo DSC00028_zps9bda77a9.jpg

The ramp is also badly designed

 photo DSC00029_zps3310c24d.jpg

Parking was maintained

 photo DSC00030_zps6311a62d.jpg

Minor detailing

 photo DSC00031_zps6505c771.jpg

So this is odd. The library media center has a front door built right up to the street. Fantastic right?

 photo DSC00032_zpscb1fc10c.jpg

Problem is, the school is gated, meaning everyone has to walk in through one, and only one entrance.

Good architecture, bad street life.

 photo DSC00033_zps324c0dbf.jpg

Moving on we see some additional greenery into the street, and an improved handicap parking area

 photo DSC00034_zps4439a9be.jpg

But this I dont get at all. Why isn't that portion of the crosswalk built as sidewalk? It just looks wrong, and cheap. They also didn't bother to paint the crosswalk in a more visible style. You'll also note that the sign is very far from the roadway, and blocking the sidewalk, rather than in the planter.

 photo DSC00035_zps178598f5.jpg

At night this crosswalk is very dangerous. The lighting is entirely useless.

 photo DSC00036_zps1717db6e.jpg

Worse, the city once again decided that at an intersection with three crosswalks, to only paint one. This is a major school, what are they thinking? 

 photo high3_zps5ffbf639.png

Anyway, looking back at the building.

 photo DSC00037_zps9577ae95.jpg

And back towards the crosswalk. I don't understand this hatched space at all. Also, note the truncated domes. They indicate to the blind that they're entering a crosswalk - and yet here, they're not. WHy not just extend the sidewalk all the way and add trees?

 photo DSC00039_zps48c884b0.jpg

Here's the centerpiece, which used to be hidden

 photo DSC00040_zps2213a631.jpg

Finally, a grand entrance again

 photo DSC00041_zps5087ddfa.jpg

And peeking through the gate

 photo DSC00042_zps420c9702.jpg

 photo DSC00043_zps62b02741.jpg


Arriving at the next crosswalk. Same problems as before

 photo DSC00044_zps481acf35.jpg

So odd

 photo DSC00045_zpsd12bbddf.jpg

The next new building, this one you can enter from the street. I think you have to if you're a visitor.

 photo DSC00046_zpsf2ad0b56.jpg

 photo DSC00047_zps7068c3f6.jpg

Where's the crosswalk?

 photo DSC00048_zps20a8e971.jpg

Looking back

 photo DSC00049_zpsbbba6ac9.jpg

 photo DSC00050_zpsa6e1b9e7.jpg

 photo DSC00051_zps6e5ce48e.jpg

Dead space. Where are the bike racks?

 photo DSC00052_zps089ccc7d.jpg

 photo DSC00053_zpsfe0e66d5.jpg

 photo DSC00054_zpscfb45d45.jpg

 photo DSC00055_zpsa373f7e5.jpg

 photo DSC00056_zpsb8054fdd.jpg

Walking back, you can see the retail block across the street

 photo DSC00057_zps1a96edf7.jpg

 photo DSC00058_zpsfd628c2c.jpg


Overall, the new buildings are great. A huge improvement, that really elevates the campus. It's a shame that the district gates their schools, unlike Clovis, but I can understand some of the reasoning.

The streetscape on the other hand? Once again, not so great. As with the Broadway project, the city reveals that they have no one on staff that understands how to plan for people. When we're talking about a major High School, that's particularly problematic.


Monday, July 14, 2014

A quick look at Campus Pointe Development - Pedestrian oriented? Not really

If you've been past Fresno State on Shaw any time this year, you've seen construction underway at Campus Pointe. It's yet another shopping center for Fresno, in a part of town that isn't exactly lacking in retail options. The project is a joint development between Fresno State, and the people who brought us River Park.

The "selling point" is that it is directly next to Fresno State, so it's being advertised as a place for students to visit, and somewhere they can do so walking or biking. Sadly, the fundamentals are missing which make it a real walking or biking destination, and parking is a huge center-piece, as expected. As is the case in every Fresno development, the main street (Chestnut in this case) is fronted by parking.

 photo pointe8_zpse06ca29c.gif
Source: Fresno Bee

The project has been in the planning stages for almost a decade at this point, and because it includes a movie theater, they were sued by Sierra Vista which opened their theater around 2007 or so. Sierra Vista is just 2 miles away, while the $3 theater (United Artists 8) is just over a mile away. Aside from the lawsuit delaying things, the recessions obviously put a stop to things for a good 5 years.

 photo pointe1_zpsa0a4359c.png

Car-wise, the location is a disaster. 168 boxes the site in on the right and bottom, severely limiting driving access. That means most visitors will come in through Shaw and Chesnut. Anyone who drives into Clovis knows that this intersection is a disaster, due to the highway off ramps and series of traffic lights which always catch you.


You cant drive (or walk, or bike) east because of the freeway.

You can't drive west, because of campus, although you can bike and walk.

You can't go south because of dead ends, so you're forced onto Shaw.

North is open.

 photo pointe2_zps3717858c.png

The map above shows the three intersections the new traffic must go through. The middle and top one are roundabouts.

The problem? This pedestrian/bicycle oriented (supposedly) developments ALSO forces walkers and bikes onto these roundabouts, where all the cars will be. There's no low-stress alternate route.

Doesn't that sound fun? These won't be low-traffic neighborhood circles, you're talking about a high traffic shopping center with a regional draw (movie theater).

Imagine you're on a bike, and your destination is the yellow star.

 photo pointe3_zpsacb3147b.png

You can't go east, because freeway, so you MUST go through roundabout. 

If you go south, you can't keep going to Gettysburg because the roads are blocked. Are you going through Shaw, with 6 lanes, no bike lanes, and high speed freeway on-ramps? Nope.

Shaw and Chestnut, with student housing on the bottom. Do you want to walk or bike here?
 photo pointe9_zpse9f3835f.png

If you go north onto Barstow, you're also opting out of Willow, because again it's 6 lanes of 50mph traffic. Peach is blocked by Wal-mart. That gives you Villa, with no bike lanes a 2x2 traffic.

So your best option is through the roundabout, across campus, all the way to Maple (Woodrow is blocked off halfway) and down to Gettysburg. That's a hell of a detour!

Oh, did I mentioned that the route through campus is through the most scenic of parking lots?

 photo pointe4_zps121c3e2d.png

The most western parking lot is brand new, by the way. 

May I jog your memory with this picture.



Ahem. Back to Campus Pointe...

The roundabout itself is also a problem. For one, it requires pedestrians to take a detour just to cross the street. It also requires pedestrians to assert their right of way across two lanes of traffic at a time - not so easy when traffic is moving at 45mph, and it's dark with low quality streetlights.

 photo pointe5_zpse8b70783.png

The bike infrastructure is even worse - the roundabout doesn't even meet state standards, and it's brand new!

State design guidelines call for bike lanes to end, and cyclists to be given an option. They can take the lane, or, if they're not comfortable, they should be provided a ramp where they can join the sidewalk through the roundabout.

Except that's not what was built. In the picture below, the green square was designed properly, but the other side was not!


 photo pointe6_zpsfd879370.png

 photo pointe7_zps835141f2.png

It shouldn't be this hard.


Anyway, lets take a look at what this thing was like a month ago (sorry, I'm really behind!)

The center street is supposed to be a main street, with retail on each side, and parking. Oddly, they went with 90 degree pull in parking. Obviously, that means people are really slow to park in and out. Odd choice for their major entranceway.

 photo DSC09775_zps6e8850f2.jpg


Bike racks have been installed, but some of them are far away from the future stores

 photo DSC09774_zps3f75dbea.jpg

I'm a fan of the lights

 photo DSC09778_zps23216cbc.jpg

The sidewalk is plenty wide

 photo DSC09773_zpse26ae969.jpg

I like that the parking spaces were broken up

 photo DSC09776_zps6bc3e3bd.jpg

Looking back towards the apartments

 photo DSC09779_zps0cf864ea.jpg

A very slightly raised intersection in the middle, with more "I Bike Fresno" racks

 photo DSC09781_zpsa12b408a.jpg

 photo DSC09780_zpsb967cc26.jpg

 photo DSC09784_zpsa79b88c8.jpg

I find it odd that the trees came in so early

 photo DSC09782_zpsa037c2cf.jpg

 photo DSC09785_zpsa2e4ba0d.jpg

Walkway between buildings to the parking lots. Fire in the distance.

 photo DSC09783_zpsc5ee275a.jpg

At the roundabout, the z pattern is killer for bikes. Oddly, this end was fenced off, so I couldn't walk around the roundabout.

 photo DSC09787_zps7a3cd789.jpg

Looking back from the roundabout

 photo DSC09788_zps47079054.jpg

 photo DSC09791_zpsa7332ef6.jpg

Roundabout, very badly lit at night

 photo DSC09789_zps18999a3e.jpg

 photo DSC09790_zps87085a1e.jpg

 photo DSC09792_zps96fd6aad.jpg

And back at the other end, the apartments

 photo DSC09793_zps89cc15fc.jpg

 photo DSC09794_zpsafdeeca6.jpg


Overall the project itself appears to take out some design pointers from the bicycle and pedestrian book, but it all rings hollow because it's so hard to get there as a bicycle and pedestrian.

It's like the designers (and that means Fresno State) forget that to get from A (the dorm) to B (the theater), there's a line in the middle.They simply left a hole.

I'm sure incoming freshman will make the walk the first time....and then realize they've made a huge mistake. The center was designed for driving, and that's what people will do.

Enjoy the traffic Shaw.