Small Steps in Downtown Renton

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Located 12 miles south of Seattle, the city of Renton is undergoing rapid growth and is searching for ways to activate underutilized land in the Downtown Civic Core. This project analyzes one of these vacant parcels – a former Big 5 lot that is connected to Piazza Park and Gateway Park and has the potential to serve as a gateway to the city. In particular, I am interested in how civic engagement and participatory design can bring citizens together to form alliances and personal connections to their built environment. To explore these topics I researched place attachment, successful examples of temporary space activation, site information about the Big 5 lot, cultivated community relationships, and organized a series of design charrettes that involved Renton communities.

Having this series of open design charrettes gave the community the opportunity to get involved in the changes happening to their neighborhood. Participants envisioned designs for a pop-up park that will sit in an area of the built environment that they know best and in the process were able to connect with neighbors they may otherwise have never met. This is the beginnings of encouraging civic engagement and reinforcing a strong community foundation in Downtown Renton to begin the conversations for future developments to comes as the city works to align with the Civic Core Plan to revitalize Downtown Renton.