University of Louisville Oval Commons (Rendering by Carman)
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The grand renovation of the main entrance to the University of Louisville Belknap Campus is almost done. The most time-consuming work, especially the repaving of Third Street, is already complete, and all that remains is to finish up those fountains and landscape the thing. The project called the Oval Commons is a $1.2 million overhaul of Third Street including a new brick paving system in an argyle pattern of black and red (how appropriate).

The entrance layout was redesigned to reduce the ability of cars to make illegal U-turns and slow down traffic at the pedestrian-heavy intersection. New fountains and a granite sculpture along with revamped landscaping around the entrance and throughout the Oval are also part of the overall plan. The project was designed by Rowland Design and Carman Landscape Architecture, both with Louisville offices.

University of Louisville Oval Commons
University of Louisville Oval Commons. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

The Oval Commons project began in July and was scheduled to be finished by mid-September… but the inevitable delays have pushed work back by about a month or so. The project was funded by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet through a federal grant intended to improve traffic flow and air quality.

Overall, the work looks great and is a huge change for the better from the University’s previous entrance. We especially appreciate the narrowing of Third Street, but wish it were easier to cross into Stansbury Park from the entrance which has no crosswalk, signal, or really any way of getting from the sidewalk to the street without trampling on the landscape. The brick pavers placed on Third Street were intended to calm traffic in the area to create a more pedestrian-friendly area, but they are so smooth, cars pass over them without a desirable “sound-texture” to indicate reduced speed. Perhaps a few raised pavers would help with this “rumbling” noise when driving through the area (or perhaps the state DOT doesn’t like that kinda stuff on State Highways?). A few more bollards (in the pedestrian median) would have added to a feeling of safety as well.

We love the project, though. Brick-paved streets, especially when done well, can’t be beat. They change the feeling the road, make the entire area more inviting and visually interesting, and do help to slow traffic down. The University of Louisville is planning for additional projects in the area, so hopefully similarly well-designed schemes will surface in the future.

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Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

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