Prioritizing Third Street Promenade as the heart of Downtown Santa Monica.
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.
Our work prioritizes Third Street Promenade as the heart of Downtown Santa Monica, authentically representing the community’s values, culture, and economy.
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 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.
Launched in the summer of 2019, The Experiment transformed Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica’s backyard, into a vibrant hub by introducing interactive art installations, pop-up performances, and community workshops, all designed to engage the next generation in this dynamic retail environment.
RIOS and Pink Sparrow collaborated to craft installations like box seating, overhead canopies, inviting lawns, and a stage, all paired with diverse seating, shade, and playful games, shaping the Promenade’s unique character. Each element targets three test areas: flexible flow, active activities, and a verdant entryway. These combined features elevate the retail experience, boost its role as an economic driver, active mobility hub, global destination, and vibrant 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.