Historically, the Sacramento waterfront was the most culturally diverse open space in the city. Front street to the waterfront was a free, open zone that cultivated incredible social and economic activity. While preservation efforts saved historic buildings, the highway, rail and levee infrastructure create a physical and psychological “island”. “Sacramento’s Front Porch” proposes to restore the area between Front Street and the waterfront into a signature park that honors Sacramento’ history and inspires the future for the local and visiting community. The waterfront is repositioned as Sacramento’s welcome mat, a diverse and social place for all.
The Porch has served as a sheltered and welcoming platform throughout Sacramento’s history. It represents a unique sense of shared experiences on the street, throughout the city even today. The Old Sacramento Waterfront remains the only part of the city with direct connection to the waterfront. The origins for the site was an open and flexible. With rail, came the disconnection from the water. Although historically significant, the railway configuration conflated an active waterfront. The site remained a storage railyard until the 1960’s when I-5 was constructed. Although the historic preservation of the buildings is celebrated, the vehicular, pedestrian and bike connections are confusing and disjointed. The team’s approach is to restore a simpler circulation that mimics the waterfront’s most vibrant period. The rail structures along Fronts creates a visual disconnection. They also disrupt the continuity of open spaces. The team proposes to remove and or relocate a few select buildings to support a large continuous open space and unlock views and connectivity to the river. A “Front Porch” promenade unifies the site while supporting a layer of historic narratives from 1850 and 1870, while including narratives of the 20th century, and possibly beyond. Auto circulation is considered through priority entrances on I and 2nd Street. This affords a widened open space and bike connection off Capital to allow for a designated bike path and a separated pedestrian connection on the embarcadero.
Atlas Lab’s Team proposes to cultivate the Front Porch identity to 1. honor the site’s historic origins as the city’s Front Porch, 2. understand the problem of the site as an “island” with numerous barriers, 3. create a strategy of enhanced connections from downtown to the waterfront and 4. create a vision for a signature park, that welcomes the great diversity of Sacramento.
Atlas Lab’s Team aims to cultivate a set of diverse uses on the waterfront. Though stakeholder engagement, the team understands the desire to increase opportunities more family-oriented activities and venue for performances. The Porch Promenade integrates a range of uses including porch swings, shade, lighting, art, and historic timeline.
A new performance venue near Tower bridge provides a unique setting for outdoor concerts, with regular activation of new Café and Event space overlooking the river.
The historic site of the transcontinental railroad at K and Front Street, is reimagined as a sheltered depot structure for family picnics and BBQs, alongside a sloped lawn for gathering with views back to the City.
The J street portion of the Porch, features a playful splash pad along with adventurous nature play and beach area for volleyball.
Sacramento’s Front Porch
Competition Name: Sacramento Waterfront Idea Makers
Location: Sacramento, CA, USA
Client: City of Sacramento
Team Lead: ATLAS Lab Inc.
Rana Creek Design