WSU Spokane Students Produce Designs for Downtown Site

SPOKANE, Wash. – Washington State University Spokane design students will offer alternative design concepts for a public place in the core of downtown Spokane to the Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP) Board on Wednesday (Dec. 19). The presentation is planned for 4:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Phase I Classroom Building, Room 148, on the Riverpoint Higher Education Park, 668 N. Riverpoint Blvd.

Fourth-year Collaborative Design Studio students and the WSU Spokane Interdisciplinary Design Institute contracted with the board to develop the conceptual alternatives as proposed in the 1999 report prepared for the board, “Charting the Future: The Plan for a New Downtown.”

Three student-design teams developed concepts for the site recommended in the report: the vacant Lamonts and J.J. Newberry stores on the north side of Riverside between Wall and Howard streets.

The 1999 report calls for a new public square downtown that would serve as a “ceremonial place” for public events and informal gatherings. The vacant buildings are the ideal location because of the proximity to the Spokane Transit Authority Plaza and the end of the planned light rail route.

However, the students went beyond designing a public square, expanding the scope of the recommendations to include other uses such as housing, office and service retail, said Doug Menzies, WSU Spokane associate professor of architecture. Menzies oversees the students’ work.

“The (board) finds tremendous value in our on-going partnership with WSU Spokane Interdisciplinary Design Institute,” said Michael Edwards president of the board. “They are helping us articulate the ideas behind a more pedestrian friendly and attractive downtown environment.”

The design teams are composed of students from architecture, interior design and landscape architecture. Drawings and models of the student work will be displayed, at a place to be determined, in the core area of the city after the presentations. The board plans to generate a CD of the student work for distribution to board members and community leaders.

The board is a membership organization that is attempting to create a vital downtown area as the basis for a healthy economic region.

The Interdisciplinary Design Institute at WSU Spokane advances knowledge to enhance the quality of people’s lives in the built and natural environment through interdisciplinary instruction, research and community service in design and construction. Program information online is available at