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Ames - Campustown Clocktower and Welch Avenue Improvements

Client: City of Ames, IA

To improve Campustown’s retail performance and identity, FTB’s placemaking measures helped humanize its main street (Welch Avenue) and extended ISU’s collegiate brick character onto it. 

FTB designed and positioined a clocktower to mark and enclose the public space of the walkable Campustown retail cluster.
 

Before

1994 USGS aerial photo of Welch Avenue in Campustown (the horizontal street at center).

  • While Campustown’s location next to Iowa State University was convenient for students, the district’s wide, barren streets and utilitarian shops and bars failed to draw residents and visitors.
  • Along Welch Avenue, the storefront fabric “petered out” into filling stations and fast food outlets just two blocks from ISU.
  • Campustown did not look or feel related to ISU’s gracious campus nor its architecture.

Assignment

  • Working with constrained city resources, develop approaches to broadening Welch Avenue’s appeal beyond its auto-dominated look and feel.
  • Find ways to make the district more memorable and strongly linked to the campus.
  • Create a “quality statement” with focused and readily implementable improvements.

Outcomes

  • FTB’s streetscape recommendations added corner bulb-outs and sidewalk trees.  New streetlights were centered in parking lanes to help visually narrow the street (where underground utilities prevented trees from fulfilling that role).  The City implemented the streetscape concepts.
  • FTB sited and designed a small-scale public clocktower one long block from campus and in the center of Welch Avenue, at the crest of a hill to define a pedestrian-scale urban “room.”
  • The clocktower design incorporated modern and traditional brick themes and elements from historic city and campus buildings; FTB prepared the architectural drawings.
  • The street and clocktower have become symbolic icons for Campustown and Ames, used by city, university and business promotion programs.

In collaboration with:

Sierra Engineering Group