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Bellingham Arts District                                             

Making places for people

Creative Placemaking

Nakano Associates worked with the City of Bellingham and local stakeholders to create a placemaking vision and master plan for the Bellingham Arts District under the guiding principle “Making Places for People.” The initial phase included area analysis, conceptual master planning, urban design and public outreach to create a place-making vision plan. The second phase was a draft conceptual plan identifying areas in the public right of way that needed improvement such as widening sidewalks and creating urban plazas.

In the third phase of the project Nakano Associates redesigned three areas in the public realm that act as connectivity nodes to help bring more life to the area. Widened sidewalks at Champion Street have strengthened it as a gathering space and retail hub. A pedestrian and transit friendly streetscape with rain gardens supports the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher Building.

Urban plaza design

The construction of a plaza and street improvements at Bay and Holly provides a gateway to the Arts District from Downtown. The plaza was created by removing a right turn drive lane and making room for a plaza that spans two corners of an intersection. Working closely with artist Ellen Sollod, Nakano Associates designed a vibrant, flexible urban space that includes custom granite pavers, curving seat walls and lush landscaping.

A successful public space

The Bellingham Arts District ranked 8th in the “Top 100 Public Spaces Project” sponsored by Planetizen and Project for Public Spaces in 2011.

Location: Bellingham, Washington

Client: City of Bellingham

Artist: Ellen Sollod

“We are very pleased with the investments we made in the Arts District. Two years after completion of the Bay & Holly Plaza the area is bustling with street life and has several new businesses. The plaza is working fabulously.”

– Tara Sundin, Project manager, City of Bellingham Planning and Community Development