FAMU Way Extension and Capital Cascades Trail Segments, Tallahassee, Florida
The revitalization of an existing roadway corridor, transformed into an open aired stormwater conveyance channel and a functional greenway system.
by Shawn Kalbli, ASLA, principal, Wood+Partners Inc., and Linda Youst, marketing coordinator
Photography: Adam Cohen Photography, Tallahassee
Through a collaborative partnership, the city of Tallahassee and the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency advanced the design and implementation of the FAMU (Florida A&M University) Way Extension and Capital Cascades Trail Segment 3B and C project. Bordered by Florida A&M University to the south and the heart of downtown Tallahassee to the north, the $27 million dollar public infrastructure investment has led to the revitalization of an existing roadway corridor and transformed an open aired stormwater conveyance channel into a functional greenway system.
Before the design team was incorporated into the project, an urban design studio from Florida A&M University School of Architecture provided six initial concepts that formed the original vision for the project. From this studio project the design team derived four overarching themes that guided the overall design of the project: elements of water; history and heritage; redevelopment and activity; and color, vibrancy and playfulness. In addition to the collaborative effort, a citizens advisory committee further guided the design vision of the project through numerous meetings, including final program confirmation and materials selection. The community-wide involvement throughout the planning helped create a vision that truly reflects the desires of the community.
The Capital Cascades Trail is a multiuse trail which served as the backbone for the creation of three distinct zones and design themes. When completed, the multiuse trail will connect Cascades Park to the Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail, which ends in the coastal community of St. Marks. Anchoring the western end of the project, Railroad Square Arts Park complements the constructed improvements within the first zone. A year-round multiuse event space will host farmers' markets, artists and special community events. The trail also includes a universally accessible playground with interactive features for children of all ages. An additional amenity along the trail is a mister feature that offers visitors a refuge to cool off. The trail also fulfills the needs of cyclists with a quick repair station that features fixed bike stations complete with tools and tire pumps.
Moving along the trail and central to the corridor, a history and heritage zone pays homage to the African-American community that has played a key role in shaping this area. Dedicated areas within this zone have been reserved for future public sculpture and educational kiosks that will highlight the influence African-Americans have had on the city. Editor's note: Florida A&M University (A&M stands for Agricultural and Mechanical) in Tallahassee is the only historically black university in the 11-member Florida State University System. The diagonal bands of integral color concrete that bisect the sidewalk and trail have been placed as visual cues to alert trail goers of these unique secondary spaces.
To the east is Anita Favors Thompson Plaza at Lake Anita. The plaza bears the name of the former city manager, one of several champions of this project. The plaza is a terraced gathering area within a stormwater management facility. While many would view this area an amphitheater, the space was designed to be a flexible space that provides people with myriad opportunities for informal get-togethers and events. Members of the Florida A&M University Marching 100 Band have been seen rehearsing here, and residents often enjoy watching the sunset from this vantage point. Once the sun sets, the programmable LEDs concealed within a cantilevered cap of the stormwater facility wall illuminate the five-acre facility, setting the tone for nighttime community activities. A reclaimed area of underused space beneath two overpasses accommodates food trucks and pop-up movie viewing.
An important consideration in the overall design of the project was the inclusion principles of complete streets and sustainable elements, such as narrow travel lanes and roundabouts. The elements are accented by shade trees adjacent to the wide sidewalks and multiuse trail to enhance the user experience. Street bike lanes and median islands have wayfinding signage to improve safety and circulation throughout the site. Sustainability measures including LED street and trail lights; recycled concrete aggregate base materials; recycled glass pavers; single stream recycling receptacles; drip irrigation; a native plant palette; and aquatic plantings that aid in the filtration of water within the stormwater management facility.
The public infrastructure investment has become a catalyst for additional redevelopment and reinvestment for the community, particularly at Railroad Square Arts Park, with several new businesses calling the area home; new mixed-use developments are also planned in the area adjacent to the corridor. FAMU Way Extension and Capital Cascades Trail Segment 3B and C have created a positive social, environmental, and economic effect on the fabric of the community through sustainable and collaborative design. With three remaining phases still to be completed, these effects will continue to add to the overall enhancement of the corridor and its surrounding neighborhoods.
Clients: FAMU Way Extension Phase 1 // Capital Cascades Trail Segment 3B & 3C
- Landscape Architect of Record: Mark Baker, ASLA, managing partner, Wood+Partners, Inc., Hilton Head, S.C.
- Principle in Charge: Shawn Kalbli, ASLA, principle, Wood+Partners, Tallahassee
- Landscape Designer: Charlie Johnson, ASLA, senior project manager, Wood+Partners, Tallahassee
Civil/Structural Engineer: Cameron Snipes, PE, project manager - lead, Kimley-Horn & Associates, Tallahassee
Irrigation Design: Michael Clark, president, Clark Irrigation Design & Consulting, Lavonia, Ga.
Spec. Writer: Nina Fair, owner, Fair Consulting, Charleston, S.C.
Wayfinding: Dan Donovan, AIA, AICP, and Frank Dietrich, graphic designer, Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Dept.
- General: M of Tallahassee
- Landscape & Irrigation: Rex Shiver Landscape, Havana, Fla.