Eco-Plaza in the Heart of the City

Oct 11, 2016 | Staff

Berkeley’s re-envisioned Center Street features deep green technologies and thoughtful community place-making strategies. The community plan for the pedestrian plaza was endorsed by the City Council and final technical studies and design work are underway with the City.

Bringing to life one block of a city street in the heart of downtown Berkeley, California, Center Street Plaza will provide a multi-functional model emphasizing active urban place-making; pedestrianism and transit use; water, energy and material conservation; and downtown economic revitalization. The final design strategies, of more than thirty initial schemes, reintroduce historic Strawberry Creek within the urban riparian corridor. The project will be implemented in phases designed to match funding opportunities, create the best integration of the project with existing conditions, and minimize impacts while the project is under construction.

A pedestrian thoroughfare, Center Street Plaza will provide ample opportunities for learning about urban riparian ecology: a habitat for native plants, a teaching landscape for water conservation, and simply, a sanctuary for people.
A pedestrian thoroughfare, Center Street Plaza will provide ample opportunities for learning about urban riparian ecology: a habitat for native plants, a teaching landscape for water conservation, and simply, a sanctuary for people.
A Collaborative Vision

The Center Street Plaza project is one example of how Ecocity Builders works with community partners and professionals to build ecocity demonstration projects. Also known as Strawberry Creek Plaza, this collaboration with renowned landscape architect Walter Hood has successfully obtained community buy-in at every major Berkeley planning processes since 1997 and will help the City of Berkeley achieve its goals of becoming a community and a leader in green building and development. A 2010 City Council resolution set the wheel in motion for Ecocity Builders to coordinate with City of Berkeley staff, Hood Design, and other partners and stakeholders on fundraising, design development, and implementation.

A Plethora of Benefits for All

The Strawberry Creek Plaza project will bring about multiple benefits to future generations:

  • Create a safe and welcoming car-free public gathering space in the heart of the city at the location of the greatest pedestrian concentration and the greatest amount of actual and potential access to urban and natural amenities.
  • Accentuate and increase the experience of the Strawberry Creek riparian corridor within the project’s elements and design, including the reintroduction of native plants and Strawberry Creek.
  • Educate the public about the urban environment’s intersection with the natural environment and inculcating awareness and inspiration about our place in nurturing the bioregion through design of project elements and appropriate interpretive signage.
  • Demonstrate wise water use and reuse through elements such as rain gardens, wetland plantings, underground water storage cisterns, integrated building storm water capture and reuse systems.
  • Demonstrate the principles of resource conservation including net zero energy, material reuse, the use of non-toxic materials, fair and equitable sourcing and employment practices in all aspects of development, construction, and operation of the project.
  • Increase public health and equity and demonstrate design at the human scale through the creation of an environment. suitable for the enjoyment of all ages, abilities, incomes and backgrounds.
  • Improve air quality by discouraging driving and through the planting of additional trees and bushes.
  • Boost the local economy and Berkeley’s burgeoning arts district, by integrating with the planned Berkeley Art Museum and other arts and theater destination.

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