Fargo Urban Infill design competition
The Fargo metropolitan area has a vibrant population of nearly 200,000, with an additional 30,000 college student residents. The community is known for recession-proof growth, a skilled workforce, a business-friendly environment, and an outstanding quality of life. Fargo epitomizes the Midwestern values of hard work, honesty and integrity. The Downtown Fargo: An Urban Infill competition challenges designers to envision a multi-use urban solution that will provide retail, office, housing, parking, and plaza space on the city’s US Bank block.
Located along the historic street of Broadway Avenue, the 90,000 square foot site features finely articulated brick buildings and a pedestrian-friendly scale. The site is bounded by 3rd Avenue North and 2nd Avenue North on the north and south and by 5th Street North and Broadway on the east and west. The site includes one existing structure. The challenge is how to incorporate large-scale developer-driven development, while maintaining the small scale and diverse feel of these original small plot establishments.
The City of Fargo’s continued evolution will be rooted in convertibility, its ability to accommodate and address the inevitable shift in city development and resources. This convertibility provides entrepreneurs, retirees, businesses, families, and young professionals with rich opportunities and increased quality of life. This convertibility must be embedded in the principles guiding the city’s infill architecture.
A typical layered strategy places retail on the first floor, office on the second and third floors, and commercial or residential penthouse units on the top floors. This pancake approach does not offer much variation in plan or elevation. In order to draw people off the ground, our design places the retail component throughout the complex, spiraling around a raised public courtyard and terminating at a ceremonial multi-purpose hall. Given the flat terrain, this built-up architectural landscape gives the visitor a multi-level experience, while framing the city in new ways. The overall building configuration spirals up towards the US Bank building and perches atop its roof to complete the circuit. This whole composition acts as a beacon for the city to see and experience. The multi-dimensional layering of program and activity reinvigorates the pulse of downtown for all ages at all times of day during all seasons of the year.
The city’s architecture is as much about the places it creates and spaces it connects as it is about objects. The age of singular land-use planning and zoning has passed because it has proven to be sterilizing and unsustainable. Today’s era of information technology and environmental engineering requires utilizing local building typologies, urban flows, and land patterns to develop vibrant and versatile urban development.