People Count: Denver finds that design and transit alone don’t revitalize an area

16th Street in the heart of Denver, Colorado should be a buzzing downtown destination and a magnet for people. Design solutions alone have not managed to make it full of life. The Denver City Council is now trying a people-first approach to bring life to the streets.

First, a little background; Denver’s 16th Street Mall is nationally recognized as an efficient transit mall. Shuttle rides are free, and this makes it’s easy to get from one end of the mall to the other. But it isn’t much of a destination.

Last summer, the City of Denver asked us (Gehl Architects) to measure how well 16th Street works for people. We love this kind of project.

And to sweeten the deal, we were able to design our study around five special summer ‘Meet In The Street’ Sundays. The Mall was full of life and special activities on these days, and the shuttles were rerouted so there wasn’t any traffic.

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