8. A PROGRAM FOR THE BARRIO HISTORICO


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A window on a house in the Barrio.

A window on a house in the Barrio.


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The decision was taken very early during the course of our work to follow up studies into the past history and present status of the Barrio Historico with proposals for its future development. Upon completion of the first, or "research" phase of the study, the remainder of our working time was utilized for a second, or "design and implementation" phase. The results of this second phase are presented in the remaining portion of this report.

This second phase of the study is an exploration into the possible approaches to the task pf preserving and rehabilitating the Barrio. Despite limitations of time and resources, we have been successful in identifying those major problems and priorities which should direct future work in the Barrio. In addition, we have outlined possible approaches for their resolution. The proposals which follow are the result of four weeks of intensive effort by a small group of architecture students. The proposals are meant to offer inspiration and incentive to change. Techniques for implementation similarly point to a possible direction and should not be construed as excluding other alternatives. Further investigation into the best means of achieving a workable program for Tucson must follow this initiative.

All work done during the second phase of the study was based on three assumptions: First, that the decision will be taken by the city to relocate the Butterfield Expressway out of the Barrio Historico; Second, that a Historic Zone Ordinance will be adopted in Tucson; and Third, that the ordinance will be applied to the Barrio by designating the area as one of the city's historic districts.

We began the second phase of our study by reviewing the results of the first, or "research" phase and formulating from them a group of specific design objectives to guide the overall process of master planning. These design goals which constitute our program can be summarized as follows:

(1) A high degree of emphasis should be placed on improving the quality of Barrio life and fulfilling the needs and requirements of its own residents at all levels.


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(2) Tourist or other activities which cater primarily to nonresidents should be permitted and planned for where appropriate (i.e., along the northern margin of the study area), and when not in conflict with the neighborhood's own needs.

(3) Particular care should be taken to preserve the unique historic character and quality of the Barrio as reflecting urban territorial life in Arizona in the latter half of the nineteenth or earliest part of the twentieth century. In order to carry out this objective, it is vital for any future development to respect and reinforce the urban space conception and land use pattern of both of the Barrio's major traditions: Spanish/Mexican and Victorian American. Among techniques which must be considered for furthering this crucial objective are the application of suitable development or zoning controls, preferrably as an integral part of a Historic Zone Ordinance, on both building volume (height, yards and setback), and building use (residential, commercial, institutional, etc.). It may be desirable to subject development to more restrictions in some areas than in others. A higher level of control may be necessary, for example, to protect the strong existing character of Convent Street than in areas along the outskirts of the district. It is of the greatest importance, however, that no unusually high, large-scale or elevator high-rise structures be introduced into the Barrio. Another factor in preserving the district's character will be the design and control of public amenities and "street furniture" (i.e., trees, benches, street signs, commercial advertising, etc.). Here again, the basic goal should be to keep all such elements appropriate to both the scale and character of the district.

(4) Particular attention must be paid to developing means for preserving, unifying and intensifying the character of the north-south band of four blocks between Meyer and Convent Streets which contain the highest proportion of the Barrio's earliest and most valuable historic structures, and which date almost without exception from the Spanish/Mexican or early Territorial period; there is little or no construction later than 1900. Within these blocks, street facades are of great consistency, with comparatively few "holes" or missing structures to interrupt their continuity. It is in these blocks, where the heavy masses of adobe buildings seem still to cry out in silence about their history, that nineteenth century Tucson can best still be retained. If dealt with appropriately and sensitively, these blocks could also be the key to tying the Barrio together as a district and intensifying its unique identity.

(5) While the Barrio must retain, and, where possible, intensify its own identity, it cannot be so isolated that it loses all


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meaningful contact or relationship with the rest of Tucson. To remain viable, the Barrio must remain a part of the city, not only an "outdoor museum" visited just by tourists. Methods, for example, must be developed for effectively utilizing areas along the boundaries of the proposed historic district as "zones of transition" between the Barrio and surrounding areas of the city. Within these zones, individual structures and land use patterns should harmonize or meaningfully contrast with adjacent areas both in the Barrio itself and in surrounding neighborhoods.

(6) All individual structures in Action Index Categories "A", "B" and "C" (See Chapter 5) should be retained, preserved and eventually restored; most structures in Categories "D" and "E" should be eventually renovated or replaced with new structures conforming with other high-category structures in their immediate vicinity or "development zone" (See revised Proposed Historic Zone Ordinance (draft of 24 November 1971, Sec. 23-511).

(7) Natural lines of needed pedestrian circulation in the Barrio should be identified, and a workable, consistent approach developed for providing safe, sheltered walkways along demandlines within blocks (intrablock), between blocks (interblock), and between the Barrio and important points within adjacent neighborhoods (inter-district), with the majority of pedestrian traffic generators, tourist attractions and pedestrian flows concentrated wherever possible along the streets or outer perimeters of blocks.

(8) Natural lines of needed vehicular circulation and zones requiring vehicular service and parking should be identified, and a consistent approach developed for providing roadways and parking lots well related to associated destinations or functions involved.

(9) The design process should reflect, at all significant scales, an awareness of and response to the basic climatic factors which characterize the hot-dry desert climate of Tucson (i.e., high temperatures, intensive solar radiation and brief but intense rainfalls of summer, and the chilling, dusty winds of winter, all of which require appropriate methods of protection for pedestrian paths, vehicular routes, parking areas, etc.)

The work of the second phase of this study is presented below under five sub-headings. Each of these corresponds to a different portion of the work of this second phase. The sub-headings are as follows: (1) Master Plan; (2) Block Plans; (3) Rehabilitation Plans (for an existing and typical residential historic structure in the Barrio); (4) Industrialized Building Systems appropriate for low-cost row or detached housing in the Barrio (structures and/or prefabricated mechanical core modules); and (5) an annotated listing and discussion of agencies and programs which aid historic preservation and the implementation of design proposals.

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