Architecture Students See Different Face and Spirit for Downtown Pullman

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University architecture students have
some ideas about how they might remake downtown Pullman into a livelier,
more family- and student-friendly place.

Community members may see displays and models of the students’ projects at
the historic Gladish School throughout the month of January.

The visionary ideas of architecture professors Tom Bartuska’s and Phillip
Tabb’s students were presented to City Planner Pete Dickinson and several
Pullman Civic Trust leaders in December. The students also may go to City
Council meetings and appear on community cable to share some of their ideas
at a later date.

The ideas from Bartuska’s class include a community design interpretive
center and museum to display the best of the past and future. Tabb’s class
envisions a downtown hotel and conferencing center, a four-plex theater,
boutiques and retail stores that appeal to students, and a variety of new dining

An outdoor plaza is envisioned to seed economic growth and pedestrian
vitality, around which businesses would thrive. A few of the ideas include a
well-lit “Lighthouse Coffee Shop and Bookstore,” a toy store, clothing stores
with a young attitude, an ice cream shop for the romantic, and good
restaurants, including a computer cafe or deli.

Some students conjured a more rural plaza adjacent to the river, with retaining
walls and stair-step gardens to absorb floods, should they recur. This open
space would sport lush gardens in the summer and ice skaters in winter, as well
as “going with the flow” of the river.

Both types of plaza designs suggest bridges to link downtown to campus, and
proposed student housing closer to downtown, with apartments adjacent to
plazas or even units above city shops. The urban plaza, surrounded by a hotel,
shops, restaurants and entertainment, would be within campus walking
distance for WSU visitors and conference participants.

While many students responded to the natural features adjacent to downtown,
all felt that the quality of a more pedestrian-friendly urban space and character
for downtown was important.

“The idea of the plaza or open space is to create a void in the center of
downtown to galvanize appropriate building around it,” says Phillip Tabb,
School of Architecture director. “In all cases the students suggested mixed
use, plans for parking, good lighting and a less sanitized, more active mood.”

Tabb believes this is an opportune time for citizens to take part in
“visioneering” downtown Pullman “before it develops into suburban sprawl
from here to Moscow, Lewiston and beyond.”