9. DESIGN PROPOSALS: A MASTER PLAN FOR THE BARRIO


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Map of the Barrio

Map of the Barrio


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DESIGN PROPOSALS: A MASTER PLAN FOR THE BARRIO HISTORICO

The area we have proposed for designation as a historic district consists of thirteen blocks located between Main and Stone Avenues, and between 14th and 18th Streets. We do not intend that the objectives of our design proposals for this area, as discussed below and embodied in the Master Plan, are to be attained overnight nor in a relatively short period of time. Rather we see them as the eventual goals for a process which may operate over a period of time. The Master Plan contained in this report represents a projection of the status of the Barrio in about 20 years.

It is important not only to preserve and restore the buildings of the Barrio (see Treatment Study), but also to respect the qualities of the spaces between them. Any new structures should be designed to work well with the existing buildings and heighten the existing characteristics inherent in each specific area; i.e., new buildings along Convent Street should be designed to intensify the canyon of space that exists there. New structures, like the old ones, should tend for the most part to constitute "background buildings," enhancing the quiet richness of the area, rather than expressing their own individual uniqueness. Careful consideration of exterior color, height, setback, etc. of new buildings is essential in order to ensure that they relate well with the old buildings in the Barrio as a whole. Likewise, any restoration or alteration of the district's old buildings must retain the character which prompted their preservation in the first place. Only in this way can the area as a whole retain those qualities which make its continued preservation desirable.

In our Master Plan we have systematically attempted to locate and design new buildings for the Barrio so as to continue the existing traditions of the local contexts or subareas of which they are a part. The two major traditions of the Barrio consist of an earlier, Spanish/Mexican style dating from the mid nineteenth century, and the later, Victorian American style, dating from the end of the nineteenth and early decades of the twentieth century. In the Spanish/Mexican subareas, e.g., most notably the Meyer/Convent zone, we propose new construction compatible with the original tradition of continuous, flush-fronted, flat-roofed row housing where street facades coincided with front lot lines. This approach would do much to reinforce and restore the strong sense of enclosure which characterized these Territorial urban streets. The earlier tradition


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should also be continued in these subareas of quiet, private outdoor patio spaces in the rear of houses, facing away from the noisy streets and extending toward the interior of the block. In Victorian subareas, e.g., along Main Avenue and the eastern ends of Simpson and Kennedy Streets, new construction needs to be consistent with the later Anglo tradition of detached slope-roofed housing, characterized by generous side yards separating each house from its neighbors, with structures invariably set back varying distances from the front or street edge of the lot.

In addition to preserving or restoring individual buildings or particular streets, we also have tried to retain or revive certain earlier patterns of land use, particularly those related to the distribution of commercial and residential functions. The proposed historic district should not become entirely commercial and lose its residential identity, neither should it become entirely residential and lose its vital economic base. Instead, we believe the same sort of lively mix of both commercial and residential uses, which existed in the nineteenth century, can and should be revived. The history of the area shows how this can be done. We have proposed that commercial uses be conveniently concentrated, as in the past, at major intersections or along short streets thus making these points once again into strong "nodes," or focal points for Barrio life. This approach would also act as a control on unlimited commercial "sprawl" or "strip" growth within the study area.

One of the primary objectives of our program is to unify and intensify the special quality of the north-south zone of four blocks bounded on the east and west by Convent and Meyer Avenues, and on the north and south by 14th and 18th Streets. In attaining this objective, we have made particular use of the technique of clustering commercial uses. Two of the most important of these commercial "nodes" are proposed for locations along those portions of Simpson and 17th Streets which run between Meyer and Convent Avenues. We propose to close these two short blocks to all vehicular traffic (see Fig. 8.1) and transform them into tree-lined "pedestrian streets." These streets will function as linear commercial areas, fully serviced from interior access loop roads in the blocks immediately to the north and south.

Residential uses are proposed for areas lying between commercial nodes, as well as within the transitional areas along the western and southern boundaries of the Barrio. Buildings for residential purposes are to constitute a mix of rehabilitated historic structures and new structures utilizing both industrialized systems building techniques (see Figs. 11.1 to 11.7) and custom construction.

The Master Plan also reflects our feeling that the areas along the boundaries of the proposed historic district could serve as transitional zones, helping to bind the historic district to the rest of the city. For example, the Victorian, brick-walled structures found in the eastern portion of the district are ideal as transitional elements. Dating from a later period than the Barrio, Mexican/Spanish adobe buildings, yet of much integrity and strength, they also correspond to the predominant style


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Street map of the Barrio showing pedestrian streets.

Fig. 9.1 - Traffic patter within Barrio historico.


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and period of the neighboring Armory Park district to the east. These transitional structures could be rehabilitated as necessary to serve either existing or new purposes, with churches remaining churches and homes remaining homes or remodelled into professional offices. Again, any new sructures in the area should also be designed to relate well to their neighbors.

The southern boundary of the Barrio which runs along the north side of 18th Street contains relatively few structures at present. We have selected the western block of this transitional area as the most appropriate location for a new Neighborhood Recreation Center, to include an indoor gymnasium/recreation hall and outdoor swimming facilities. The Center would relate well to the nearby Drachman School just to the east and to possible future high density residential development on the other side of 18th Street. Its location on the historic district's southern margin would permit the Center to serve both the Barrio and those more extensive residential neighborhoods lying further south.

The adjacent neighborhood of "El Hoyo" should remain the natural and traditional western buffer zone for the historic district, while retaining its own special character and great cohesiveness.

We also concluded that it is vital for the Barrio to accommodate, insofar as possible, to the demands of present-day modes of transportation. We have thus planned for as much off-street parking and vehicular service access as practicable, in all cases concentrating these functions in the interior of the blocks along vehicular "loop" roads (see Block Plans and Master Plan). In order to discourage the use of Barrio streets as overspill parking areas for the Community Center, we have proposed that both Meyer and Convent Avenues be made into one-way streets north-bound (see Fig. 8.1).

We have also projected a pedestrian pathway system for the Barrio, located within block interiors. This system has three primary goals: First, to provide Barrio residents with safe, convenient access on foot to surrounding residential areas outside the Barrio, as well as to important institutional or public uses within or adjacent to the Barrio, such as schools, churches, the Wishing Shrine and the Community Center; second, to create a pleasant, tree-sheltered pedestrian sequence for local residents and visitors alike, which links up each of the four major commercial areas or "nodes" proposed; and, Third, to provide direct pedestrian access for visitors and residents between interior parking areas and adjacent office, shopping and commercial facilities.

Another objective of our design program was to find effective methods of dealing with Tucson's hot, dry desert climate. In accordance with this goal, we have revived the earlier tradition of using trees to provide both scale and shelter along street curbs, pedestrian ways and in parking lots, as well as inside private patios. Among other factors in this connection, we also would encourage further study of the use of high thermal capacity building materials, such as mud adobe, as well as reflective and resistive insulation. In conjuction with simple mechanical systems, e.g., evaporative coolers, the use of such materials would ensure humane thermal environments at minimum cost in low-cost housing for the Barrio.


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Achieving a workable historic district plan as outlined above necessitates zoning changes in the Barrio Historico area. The first change proposed in the present zoning pattern (Appendix #3) would concentrate and limit commercial functions to major intersections in the central portion of the district. The result would be a greater potential total area for residential uses and less for commercial uses. The concentration and limitation of commercialism should serve to ensure that the district remains chiefly a residential neighborhood. The second change involves the placement of an overriding "H" designation on the zoning classifications upon the area bounded by Main and Stone Avenues, 14th and 18th Streets. This prefaced designation (e.g., HR3, HB2) supercedes area and height requirements so as to maintain the scale and unique qualities of the district. The "H" designation controls but does not necessarily inhibit new construction. In areas such as the Barrio, with its contiguous structures built out to front lot lines, setback and side yard requirements must be eliminated if the new is to be compatible with the old as part of the urban fabric. A developer is then able to capitalize on an increased proportion of useable ground floor area even if restricted in potential height limits.

A zoning ordinance would offer direction to those involved in development in the Barrio. However, it alone will not provide incentive to undertake development. Other programs, such as the transfer of development rights, tax relief, revolving funds, etc., of the type used or under development in other cities and states must be established to assure success of the historic district.

As discussed above, major priorities for the historic district have been identified during this second phase of our study, and, insofar as possible, appropriate responses have been formulated to them and presented in the form of the Master Plan. In projecting any plan for the future development of the area, as well as in enacting controls based on that plan, social, cultural and moral values, along with economic considerations must be taken into account. Prestige can often be gained far more by virtue of the uniqueness and special character of an entire area, especially a historic zone, than by the uniqueness of any particular building within in it.

The character and quality of a historic district such as the Barrio Historico must be preserved at all costs. Sympathetic relationships between old and new can exist in the Barrio, eventually transforming the area into one of Tucson's prime commercial, professional and residential neighborhoods.


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Large street map in color of Barrio Historico.

Fig. 9.2 - Master Plan.

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