Here are some updated photos of the Commons Rebuild project from today and late last week. The excavation outside the Maté Factor is for a new sanitary service, and the main Tompkins Trust building on Bank Alley is being connected to the new water main along Bank Alley. According to the project site, four more buildings on State Street remain to be connected to the new water main, along with two on Bank Alley (including Tompkins Trust).
Here’s a presentation piece from Sasaki Associates that will be showcased at tomorrow’s Planning Board Meeting (6pm, Common Council Chambers, City Hall). It includes a detailed rundown of the amenities that will be built into the Commons as part of this project. The presentation itself is quite large, so here’s the memo of the presentation and some images of the major features. You can download the full PDF here.
Various shots from the Commons here over the past few days. Mostly more lateral water connection work as planned, and Bank Alley’s telecom lines were freed up from concrete to prepare for the water main and sanitary sewer work on this end. The work is starting on the south side where the metal shield is situated deep in the ground, and will progress along the trench that has been dug out. There’s already a new sanitary access manhole form in place, which was put in a few weeks ago.
More photos from the Commons this past week- most of the work involved lateral connections from the new water main to adjacent properties on the Commons, as well as new sanitary sewer runs and manhole access precasts. Half of the lateral connections are complete, so additional lateral connection work will commence this week, then I would imagine that the new utility duct tank will go in before the center section is covered-over with pavers before the projected end date of Phase I on the 27th of November.
The utility profile designed are embedded in a three-page PDF below.
Here are some shots of the Commons taken today and last week. The new piping for the main water line has been one of the major focuses this past week as the lateral connections off the water main are connected to the portions of the new water main, more telecommunication work continues to free those sections up, and the contractors will begin with final flushing and pressure testing this week.
All the work being done until winter is concerned with the center section of the Commons, so once all the utility work is completed, all the pavers and center section amenities will go in. Come Spring 2014, the sidewalks adjacent to private properties will be opened-up and worked on.
Just a few snapshots of the scene on the Commons as of a few days ago- the old water main has begun change-out work, and next week the sanitary line replacement work will start as well. The sanitary sewer is being replaced along Bank Alley, and in front of the former Race Office Supply building, and all other areas are to be re-lined. The Commons Project Updates Site contains a nice primer on this upcoming week.
As the Commons Rebuild site announced a couple weeks ago, Phase Two of the rebuild has kicked-off, amidst a slight delay due to atypical-size piping of the 100 year old water main, and telecom lines running directly above sanitary lines discovered in the Bank Alley section. This phase of the project was awarded to Vacri Construction, General Contractors out of Binghamton, NY, although telecom and non-municipal utility providers will be working alongside on their new services.
As we roll towards 2014, I couldn’t help myself from digging-up the original Ithaca Commons (then the “Ithaca Mall”) plans done by Anton J. Egner & Associates back in 1974. It’s hard to imagine Ithaca without the Commons; it’s an enduring icon of our downtown, and I think it’s unlikely to ever revert back to a street serving automobiles. Just as Ithaca has experienced over some recent years, pedestrian malls in many towns have tended towards decline, but changing urban demographics are reversing this trend, as younger and even older generations flock towards more urban areas offering a walkable lifestyle. I can’t help but think this is a positive trend, due to the inherent economic efficiencies found in urban areas.
Pedestrian malls are much like town squares, plazas, or piazzas in function. They provide a necessary open public space for events and public assemblies. You could think of the town square as the oldest idea in urban planning, essentially pre-dating written history, when villagers arranged tents or huts in a fashion as to allow for a central open space to gather around a fire to stay warm. The modern versions in urban areas are significantly different in appearance and amenity, but not so different in the fact that they still function as a societal center or heart. People play music, display or make art, gather, speak, rest, eat, shop… it may not have a campfire or huts, but the idea hasn’t changed- it has adapted to the modern context.
So I hope you enjoy browsing these images, and if you’re interested in the full as-built set, you can download them here. Stay warm.
Planters and planting layouts:
Bank Alley’s demolition work has been completed, so now I suppose the careful excavation work goes full steam ahead. There’s currently a complex mass of pipework all over the place; aging gas and water pipe infrastructure, telecom runs, etc. Part of the new design incorporates removable pavers overhead the utility section, so if work needs to be done in the future, it will be more easily accessible (see renders below).
Bank Alley demolition is coming along, and the crossings were being paved with fresh asphalt today. It’s quite a spectacle seeing an excavator as big as the one they’re using carefully maneuver between historic buildings and overtop the barriers, all the while people are going on as usual. I can’t imagine downtown Ithaca without the Commons being the major pedestrian crossroad.