Thursday, January 15, 2009

Isolation: Concepts. Pt. 2

As a note, all of these concepts are very rough initial sketches...

iso·late 2: to select from among others ; especially : to separate from another substance so as to obtain pure or in a free state 

The fabric of the city is cut by an unplanned event: the isolation of the city from the interstate.  The routes in and out of the city (Pearl and Pascaguoula Streets and High Street) have become expressways offering a taste of suburban culture to the suburban invaders who flood the city every day from 8 till 5 pm (and flee at night):  a gas station here (how else am I going to get home?), a drive-thru fast food joint there (dinner?).  It seems there are several forces that have contributed to this condition.
1) The Gulf, Mobile, and Northern railroad (which later joined the M&O to form the Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio) came through Jackson in 1927. The station was constructed just east of the Old Capitol, halfway down the hill towards the fairgrounds.

It stopped running in 1954.  The bed of the tracks remains, as well as some of the actual tracks, but one of the major spatial effects of the route is the remaining zoning lines and buildings that responded to it.  In particular, take a look at the upper right corner of the current map below.
The temporal residue of past functions remains on this site.

Several other forces combine with the train tracks to allow this area to act like a pair of scissors that isolates the city from the interstate.  

2) This area behind the Old Capitol is also the location of a major topo change.  Train tracks sit halfway on the ridge between the upper and lower plane.  on the east side of the topo, the city disappears except for the tops of the highrises.

3) Pearl and Pascagoula avoid these areas at all costs.   The Pearl St. bridge avoids the lower topo and goes over the tracks.  Pascaguola runs under the ground and avoids the tracks.

4) The buildings facing Jefferson in this area are unable to robustly respond to the height of the bridge, or the realities of traffic routed away from Jefferson.  The visual focus entering the city on Pearl st. becomes the back of the buildings facing State st.

The buildings facing Jefferson feel like they are facing the wrong way, they address largely undeveloped space. In a way, their function becomes very similar to interstate architecture - architecture that is seen from a distance.  To get to these buildings you must exit Pearl st. before the bridge, or loop around once you cross it - just like trying to exit the hard edges of the interstate.

Also, the recent renovation of the Old Capitol seems to play up this distinction.  The backside of the capitol in its original scheme, to which it has been restored, was not plastered.  Of course in the original plan of Jackson the back side of the Capitol did not face the most heavily trafficed entrance into Jackson.  By restoring the Old Capitol, the alien nature of the pearl st. bridge is exposed even more...

5) The fairgrounds and the old pearl river flood plane occupy most of the space between the interstate and the city.  These two conditions act as "desert" conditions.


Two Dogs said...

Isn't that whole area part of the Capitol Green project?

Bryan said...

The Old Capitol Green project bumps up on this area. It is between Pearl st. and South st. and is bordered on the west by State St. and the east by Jefferson St

Two Dogs said...

It seems at first glance that it would be better situated on your site. Moving south of Pearl doesn't sound like the direction that you want to go, north makes more sense.

Well, at first shrug it does. So how do you engage the physical plant behind Archives building?