Institute for Quality Communities (IQC) interns, Kyler Smith and Reilly Tuer spent their semester rethinking pedestrian spaces in downtown Edmond, Oklahoma. Kyler and Reilly both recently completed their third year in the Gibbs College Architecture program. Throughout the project, they were mentored by Michael Hoffner (OU B.ARCH ‘90) of höffnerdesignstudio in Oklahoma City.

Downtown Edmond, located just north of Oklahoma City is an area intended to be a lively center for the citizens of Oklahoma. The central part of the city consists of places to shop, dine, and build community. The location for their pilot program is Oschner Drive, an alleyway between 1st and 2nd street.

Kyler and Reilly developed designs that utilize abandoned alleyway spaces to enhance the livelihood of the city by creating pedestrian-centric experiences unique to Edmond. Advancing pedestrian-centered areas will help contribute to the economic growth downtown by working with surrounding businesses and creating spaces that encourage events, gatherings, and eventually permanent spaces for residents of the surrounding area.

Kyler and Reilly’s design includes open space, seating areas, a pronounced bike lane, and access to various surrounding shops and businesses. The interns gained the support of neighboring business owners and collaborated with them to provide citizens with access to their franchises directly from the alleyway. By blocking off the alley, the safety of pedestrians and properties is ensured, and traffic is not heavily impacted.

Additionally, Kyler and Reilly plan to carry out their designs using temporary paints to bring color and art into the area; the paint also serves to distinctly identify which areas are off-limits to vehicles. They were inspired by the colors in the OKC Downtown logo and hope to provide spaces for local artists to showcase their talents.

The interns will introduce their pilot program on June 3rd, 2021, in partnership with Edmond VIBES. VIBES is a free event held on the first Thursday of every month. The event promotes local businesses, artists, and performers in the local community to gather together and celebrate creativity. Kyler and Reilly plan to create an example of this pedestrian space for the VIBES event to showcase their vision and prove to the city of Edmond that these types of spaces are needed and would benefit the community.

Overall, Kyler and Reilly believe that this project will make downtown Edmond more connected, safe, and exciting. The pilot will serve as a test for their idea, and with enough interest, “The Tracks” can become a permanent staple to the downtown Edmond experience. Long-term design solutions might include adding landscaping, trees, and hammocks to existing pedestrian spaces.

Working on this project for IQC this semester has also greatly benefitted them in their personal academic endeavors. Reilly expressed learning to “talk with clients, set up professional meeting and presentations,” and gained skills like “setting specific and realistic goals and talking with important people in the city.”

Kyler added that with a client as notable as the City of Edmond, “it was interesting talking with the client and seeing how things actually worked in the city.”

Featured image: https://www.instagram.com/hoffnerdesignstudio/