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October 30, 2019

City of Olathe, KS Creates Interactive Destination with Downtown Alleys

To attract and keep visitors in their downtown core, the City of Olathe, KS decided to reimagine six, existing alley spaces. Their vision was to generate activity by adding unique elements to each. Together, they would all relate back to one unifying theme. They selected Landworks Studio for the project. 

The first step was engaging with the city and key downtown stakeholders to develop a plan. Working together, a MOVEMENT/MOTION theme was selected. Then, a schematic design package was delivered to the City, documenting each alley’s existing conditions. It provided ideas and example imagery that could be implemented through a phased approach. 

In addition to developing an overarching theme, Landworks Studio also created design development plans for the Cherry Place Alley. This was the first alley to receive funding for improvements. Working with the broad theme in an office charrette, our team developed three concepts that met the design criteria established at the beginning of the project. They included:

  1. Create a destination.
  2. Be unique.
  3. Be interactive.

The ideas were presented to city staff members for input, and the best elements of each were transformed into a final design. One of the most prominent features in the space are large, lighted swings that are suspended from custom columns extending above the building roof lines. The columns will act as beacons, attracting travelers from Santa Fe to the alley. 

In keeping with the theme, two paving options curve through the space expressing motion in the ground plane. Using pavers ensures any underground utilities can be accessed without creating “patches” in the future. Landscape screening, a living wall with aromatics and site furnishings with charging stations add to the ambience of the space, which will foster creative, social and business interactions day or night.  

With the future development of apartments adjacent to this alley, it will become not only a fun gathering spot for downtown residents, but will also be a great symbol of the revitalization of Downtown Olathe.