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Castro Street Reconfiguration and Design

Client: City of Mountain View

As the centerpiece of a revitalized town center, FTS’ redesign of Castro Street has been a catalyst for its revitalization. The design reconfigured the main street from a 4-lane arterial to a 3-lane walkable street with special “flexible zones.” These zones serve as tree-shaded curbside parking or as on-demand outdoor café dining patios. Together with custom furnishings they create a unique district identity.

Castro Street's redesign introduced “Flexible Zones” that are usable as curbside parking (typical) or for outdoor dining.
 

Before

Prior to reconstruction, Castro Street's arterial road format did not support successful main street retailing.

As a 2/3-mile long, 4 lane street with parallel parking, Castro Street was overly auto-oriented in character.

Rents were low yet storefront vacancies were numerous.

A few inexpensive downtown eateries drew a lunch trade, but the area was deserted after dark.

A 1970's streetscape had added trees and patches of brick sidewalk pavers, but business had not improved.

Assignment

  • Redesign the street to create a unique pedestrian-oriented environment and kick-start the downtown economy.
  • Improve the street's scale and lighting to create a memorable “public living room.”

 

Outcomes

Built

  • Construction was completed in 1989.
  • Reduction of lanes from 4 to 3 did not reduce traffic capacity greatly as left-turning cars had always blocked the left lane in downtown.
  • The street redesign further “healed” the proportions of the street by repositioning trees off the sidewalk and into the parking lane.  This enlarged the pedestrians' street width and narrowed the drivers' apparent street width to help slow them down.
  • The flexible parking zones host over a dozen outdoor restaurant patios where none previously existed, and have helped make downtown Mountain View a regional dining destination.
  • The pedestrian-oriented streetscape also supports cafes, nightlife, bookstores, boutiques, and convenience retail.
  • Castro Street's vibrant 18 hour activity has successfully attracted substantial investment in residential, transit and workplace development in and around downtown.
  • The project was recognized in a 1993 San Francisco Chapter AIA Honor Award for Downtown Mountain View’s revitalization.
  • Profiled in Great Streets by Allan B. Jacobs.

In collaboration with:

Mark Thomas & Co., Inc., Andrea Cochran, Cathy Ashley, Sugimura Associates, DKS Engineering, The Engineering Enterprise