Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Bifurcated Dichotomy

Ian Garnier, Patrick Pirtle, Joel Miller

Downtown Seattle encompasses the intermixing of residents and visitors. From Western Avenue through Belltown and beyond, the role of visitor and resident interchange between those who feel they belong, and the visitor passing through. Our groups' observations were taken over several afternoons downtown, from the waterfront to Interstate 5, and found several instances of the resident/visitor paradigm. First, homeless population in Seattle takes on both the role of resident and visitor. Among the posh developments of Belltown, the homeless are made to feel like visitors,
kept on the move through unfriendly design elements. At the same time, they display their "residency" by inhabiting the space that visitors do not, such as under the Viaduct and along the waterfront. Second, businesses that cater to tourism welcome visitors as residents, providing incentives for these visitors to stay such as dedicated parking in downtown. By doing this, it shows residents to move along, much like the design elements do to those hoping to linger in Belltown. Likewise, signs of downtown reflect this sentiment. Wayfinding assistance is given to those unfamiliar with the City’s layout. This assistance conceals the City’s attitude towards its residents, who are treated as visitors, prohibited from all but moving along its sidewalks. Visitors see the City through new eyes; exploring and capturing the sites residents take for granted. The final and most interesting notion of the resident/visitor relationship is local advertisements directed at the residents. These signs beckon residents to become the visitor, experiencing those new areas with new eyes while moving in, throughout, and back home again.

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