Our work prioritizes Third Street Promenade as the heart of Downtown Santa Monica, authentically representing the community’s values, culture, and economy.
In the 90s, Third Street Promenade was widely studied as a model of the urban renaissance. However, the formula that it pioneered — movies, dining, shopping — that worked to draw people and engage them changed with the arrival of the internet era. Promenade 3.0 maintains that today people have very different reasons for engaging in public spaces like Third Street Promenade. Namely fun, gathering, play, and unique experiences.
RIOS was hired by Downtown Santa Monica for the Third Street Promenade Needs Assessment. To determine what uses of the Promenade would engage visitors, we created a pilot project program to study the types of attractions that would draw people to the area and encourage them to engage with Third Street as a public space amenity.
The Transformative Elements
The principles of the pilot project ensured that each installation maintains existing amenities related to individual properties, equitably distributes the flow of traffic and pedestrian amenities on both sides of the street, maximizes visibility of storefronts, all while creating new energy and pedestrian traffic.
The Experiment tests what makes public space vibrant and active. This outdoor laboratory on the Third Street Promenade is open this summer from August 11 through September 30.
The programming introduces new elements to serve the next generation of residents and visitors amid the ever-evolving retail environment of Third Street Promenade. The goal is to improve and adapt elements so that there is a transformation of the use and engagement with the space, which is viewed as Santa Monica’s backyard.
RIOS teamed with Pink Sparrow to fabricate installations like box seating configurations, overhead canopies, lawns, and an outdoor stage to be paired with varied and ample seating, shade elements, and games that contribute to the Promenade’s unique sense of place. Each of the installations are keyed to three test experiences: flexible flow, active amenities, and green gateway. These factors combined elevate this retail street and its role as an economic engine, active mobility hub, world-class destination, and people-focused urban neighborhood.
To analyze the effectiveness of The Experiment and plan for the Promenade 3.0, RIOS teamed with Gehl People. They focus on the relationship between quality of life and quality of built environment by studying user interests, behavior, scale, senses, and engagement in the surroundings. They use a process that involves keen observation to record the activity and quality of space by counting, measuring, and analyzing space and what makes it perform to enrich city life.
The results of this analysis will be used to chart the course in the evolution of this downtown district. The tests will determine ideal uses and locations that will inform the overall masterplan and leverage the investment that will be made. Our team will soon use the data collected from The Experiment to begin the master planning process. The Promenade 3.0 plan is expected early 2020.