When construction was completed on Interstate 5 in 1962, Seattle residents had little idea how disruptive the 277-mile-long highway would become. The most troubling stretch of the road, it turned out, was the part that sliced directly through the city’s downtown, creating not only an eyesore but an abundance of noise and pollution. For years, urban planners and city officials have grappled with the question of how to fix the problem. Now, the Seattle-based firm Patano Studio Architecture might have come up with a brilliant solution. The proposal? Capping the freeway with a two-mile-long, 45-acre elevated park that would hide the roadway and offer space for affordable housing.
The firm has described the plan as a “citywide architectural infrastructure solution to multiple issues facing the fast-growing city.” The proposal, called the Seattle C.A.P.itol Hill Park, would add much-needed space in an area that is in the process of reinventing itself. Sonics Arena, an HOK project, is a proposed downtown venue that would hold some 20,000 seats. With the addition of such buildings, the neighborhood would be in need of more parkland and housing, concerns that could be alleviated with Patano Studio’s plan.
By covering the ten lanes of traffic with a park including pedestrian paths, bike lanes, ample green space, and affordable housing, Seattle could set an example for other cities. Los Angeles is currently looking into ways to cover parts of Highway 101, while Boston officials want to cap a section of Interstate 90. Even Munich is analyzing methods of covering parts of the beloved autobahn. […]