This could have been a straightforward street widening, with simple grades, turn lanes, curb and gutter and the like. Hillside, one of Wichita’s major north-south streets, began as a two-lane residential lane but now carries a significant and growing traffic load. This section just south of 21st Street also fronts the western edge of the Wichita State University campus. As such, it serves as an integral part of the university’s public countenance. Like many urban campuses, it has been in place long enough to see surrounding neighborhoods mature and, in some cases, decline.
Because this road engineering project required major widening to handle arterial-level traffic, it would be necessary to encroach on residential property lining the west side of the street, across from the campus. This could have resulted in further degrading and devaluing these properties. We suggested, instead, that the project become a showcase for the university and benefit the adjoining neighborhood by taking out the most affected housing. That decision created a 250-foot corridor that provided additional room to create a large boulevard streetscape. Taking cues from university architecture and landscaping, we used limestone for retaining walls and took advantage of grading opportunities to provide contrast and relief, effectively pulling the campus out into the street and enhancing both in the process. The result is an integral project that handles the increased traffic while complementing both the campus and the adjoining neighborhood.
“A project that complements and enhances the college campus and its surrounding neighborhood.”
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