ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

Play Ball!

10.22.13 by Scott Rodehaver
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Wallace Engineering moved into the Brady Arts district in 2006 to a great historic 1920s brick warehouse. We had a small parking lot with additional street parking. The streetscape on three sides included new sidewalks, trees and street lights. Actually streetscape was not in my vocabulary at that time. Interestingly, it is not in my iPhone’s dictionary either?

Fast forward two years and I was privileged to be a part of the design team for what was the start of an amazing revitalization of the Brady Arts district. We began working with a west coast planning and landscape firm called SWA to create a streetscape master plan for the district and beyond.  About 9 months into that process we took a detour to what really got the streetscape ‘ball rolling’, the ballpark now known as OneOK field, home of the Texas league AA Tulsa drillers baseball team.

With the ballpark on one end and the BOK center on the other, the concept created by SWA was to connect those two downtown Tulsa focal points with a pedestrian-friendly streetscape right through the Brady Arts district.  Along the way would be a world-class park in Guthrie Green, art gallery/ education spaces (AHHA, TU/Zarrow and Philbrook) and the Woody Guthrie Archives to name a few. Many other artisans and restaurants also appeared or began to thrive.  Revitalization was happening before us!

This streetscape that began at the ballpark was now multiplied thoughout the district and covered 30 block faces, with more on the way.  So what is streetscape?

Streetscape:  Is that area of the public right-of-way between the buildings that includes a sidewalk or pedestrian zone, parking zone and roadway zone.  The enhancement seeks to create a pedestrian-friendly environment that provides safety, accessibility and functionality.  Elements of streetscape include lighting, concrete or paver sidewalks, trees, street furniture such as trash bins/benches/bike racks, information kiosks, on-street parking and roadways (although most of the Brady streetscape dealt only in the pedestrian and parking zones due to budget constraints).

As civil engineers we don’t typically get to be creative with something people enjoy. It’s usually the more utilitarian things, the things that make life “civil.”   I know some of my colleagues will say we are creative and we are.  But people just aren’t going to marvel at how we resolved a grading issue to eliminate the need for steps at a building.  However, 2.5 years of architecture classes has helped me to have a little better understanding and appreciation for the design of street spaces.  As I travel throughout the country, I now look at (and photograph) such things as brick pavers, street lights, street benches, concrete sidewalk joint patterns, tree grates…studying what others have done helps to refine the details we have created for our streetscape, learning what works and what doesn’t.

Looking back to what was devoid of pedestrian-friendly areas where there were narrow broken sidewalks (or no sidewalks), entire blocks with no lighting, poor tree selection (if at all) and wide streets with minimal parking; has been transformed to well lit (LED dark sky friendly too) wide sidewalks, better trees, angled parking and narrower streets that produce traffic calming (think slow traffic). It all results in a place we want to be, one that feels right when we are walking down the street. A place we can be proud of being able to create and lucky to be able to experience every day. Come experience the district!

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Scott Rodehaver, PE


Scott received his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Texas Tech University and his Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of…

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