Instant Downtown

Studio Marco Vermeulen as Architects

There are a couple important ingredients to create a sustainable and vibrant downtown in Fargo. It needs to be well programmed, have a significant amount of inhabitants, quality housing, a diverse range of civic space and commercial activities. It also needs good pedestrian connections towards the river, the civic center and the library. All of this must be conveniently accessible by car.

In order to vitalize the city center we have chosen a strategy of urban condensation: Instant Downtown. We propose a fully programmed dense urban block which gives Fargo’s downtown an identifiable, mature skyline. At the same time we consider the scale and function of the historical buildings with a shopping layer on Broadway. In addition, we boost the number of downtown inhabitants, and create a one of kind elevated urban activity park. Separating the shopping plaza and the urban activity deck we find 500 (public and private) parking spaces on a continuous ramp fully integrated into the block. No more parking on street level, no more ugly street front parking garages.

Whilst Broadway and the mall are more orientated towards shopping and retail, the roof of the parking ramp doubles as an urban activity deck which consists out of five sloping levels. The deck is programmed with playgrounds, sandboxes, greenery, an ice rink and a basketball court. From this level nine towers and blocks between five and seventeen stories high are accessed, combining a mix of offices, apartments and student housing. This guarantees round the clock activity on the urban deck. Windows in a wind protecting wall around the deck frame beautiful views towards the surrounding area.

Currently most downtown blocks in Fargo are 50% parking. Asphalt is the norm. We propose a design which fully integrates parking into the urban program and creates space for street orientated activity. An elevated continuous parking ramp is winding up the block and makes parking an experience in itself. The triangular courtyards created by the parking scheme form the basis of the layout of the shopping mall and the urban activity deck and define space for escalators that connect these layers.

The relocation of the US Bank takes place at its original location, and integrates into the layering of the building. Drive up ATMs will be located on the southeast corner of the block, while customer service is prominently located on the second level, overlooking an interior shopping plaza. Reserved employee and customer spaces in the parking layer ensure easy access to customer service level, as well as additional office space located on the urban activity deck.

The Instant Downtown strategy meets the needs of Fargo with a mixed use, condensed block which fills the current void with a vibrant heart. The block creates an image of a lively American downtown on an urban scale, while continuing and intensifying the activity on street level.

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NIO House Tianjin
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NIO House Tianjin

Tianjin, China - Build completed in 2019
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