Indianapolis Cultural Trail
Photography: all images from VisitIndy
The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is an ambitious and bold project that has created a more connected and sustainable community in which to live, work, play, and learn. REA was charged with establishing a dynamic icon for the city of Indianapolis, Indiana that would integrate an 8-mile long linear park within busy downtown streets, become a downtown hub for the City’s greenway and trail system, connect neighborhoods and cultural amenities, and significantly enhance the City’s quality of life.
500 new street trees
25,000 S.F. of stormwater management facilities
60 redesigned intersections
5 acres of dedicated space for pedestrians and cyclists
From an urban design perspective, it represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink the city on a variety of levels: reclaim public space once dedicated to vehicles for the exclusive use of pedestrians and bicyclists; provide a universally accessible, safe and convenient transportation option for everyone from 8 to 80; create a significant and lasting contribution to the natural and built environment with a connective linear park that provides access to beauty and nature everyday day for everyone; pioneer new stormwater management techniques that minimize the impact to waterways; catalyze smart growth revitalization and economic investment that transforms underutilized properties into mixed-use, mixed-income developments; and achieve greatly enhanced mobility through transit integration and community bike sharing. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail has achieved astonishing success on each of these levels and is known throughout the United States as a revolutionary new benchmark for 21st century urban transportation and public space design.
The ICT has made a significant and lasting environmental impact, with sustainable and far-reaching benefits. REA’s project approach established a new model for urban redevelopment in the city that minimizes the need for new storm sewers and their associated impact on ecosystems and waterways, while supporting the project goal of adding natural beauty to public spaces. This approach includes the replacement of impervious surfaces with over five acres of new greenspace, planted with a variety of native and drought tolerant plantings, significantly reducing urban runoff. In addition, the project was the first in Indianapolis to employ stormwater planters to capture and cleanse millions of gallons of annual rainfall along the city streets, diverting it from our overburdened sewer system and recharging groundwater; over 25,000 SF of stormwater planters were implemented and have become a signature design feature. REA’s successful use of stormwater planters has been a catalyst for incorporating this stormwater management practice elsewhere in the Indianapolis region.
Like many visionary and transformative projects, the ICT strikes a balance between enhancing its urban context and defining a new context to which future projects relate and connect. As a vibrant, pulsing vessel of walking and biking activity, it has been enthusiastically embraced as a catalyst for community revitalization and connectivity efforts.