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  • Writer's pictureAGD

Downtown and SO-HI Creates Opportunity for Art District

Map of So-Hi zone in San Luis Obispo, California
This map identifies parcel zones as well as key properties and proposed bike routes

The So-Hi district, or so-called “Funk Zone,” is an up-and-coming artsy area near downtown San Luis Obispo. The zone features Nautical Bean and High-Street Deli (among other food hotspots), various retail attractions, many business developments, and a plethora of auto shops. It’s the perfect spot for young, working professionals to hang out in their down time. However, in an area deemed as an “arts” district, there are actually very few places for creative expression; AGD being one of them. Through the process of conducting local research, walking the area, and identifying various programmatic hotspots, we were able to conclude that the lack of pedestrian accessibility, as well as multiple instances of under-utilized land and property were the largest factors preventing this area of San Luis Obispo from developing into the type of zone it wants to be. In order to facilitate community engagement and draw people to the area, the street, pedestrian, and commercial interfaces need to be merged in such a way that allows for creative expression throughout the district. This can be achieved through additional landscaping along sidewalks, designated parking areas that are away from pedestrian travel paths, more bike lanes, and regular pop-up art exhibits, book stores, and different types of food stalls.

Photo montage of the So-Hi district of San Luis Obispo, CA
Photo Montage and Proposals

We were able to identify, locate, and categorize the various programmatic spaces across the district through both 2-D and 3-D diagrammatic street plans, sections, and elevations. After analyzing these drawings, we identified areas for improvement at the most problematic intersections and included specific suggestions to help. We proposed modifications for Higuera St, Pacific St, Parker St, and Pismo St, as can be seen below. The goal of these changes is to create an interface that is more safe and pedestrian friendly, which will in turn create more community engagement.

Section proposals for the So-Hi district with specified names for streets in the area
Section Proposals for the So-Hi District

Another major area for improvement in the district is the lack of spaces that allow for creative and artistic expression. While we have proposed a few locations to potentially design a new building or transform an old one, the best way to create the desired vibe and aesthetic would be through temporary pop-up exhibits. This could include art, books, food, and clothes, all made by local individuals, and make it so that there is always something new and exciting happening in the area.

Proposed plan and Map
Proposed Master Plan

The ultimate goal of this proposal is to create a more dynamic and engaging community for people in downtown San Luis Obispo, much like the Funk Zone in downtown Santa Barbara. Since there is such a large residential area surrounding this district, the focus should be on creating a zone that is safe, welcoming, and inviting to everyone. Right now, the business-commercial properties within the area take over, so including hotspots where people can actively engage and interact with new art would blur the harsh boundary that separates the street line from the pedestrian interface and create a lively atmosphere.

3-D map of proposed Master Plan
3-D Master Plan

Written by Mason Bechtold and Shivali Rao

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