Take a peek at the potential future of downtown IC

It’s no secret that the City of Iowa City is planning big changes to downtown’s aesthetic. For the last few months, city officials have been reaching out to the community for feedback on a bevy of concepts that may or may not make it into the final construction itinerary.

We are inching closer inching closer to tangible change, however. Last week, the city invited the public to visit the Sheraton Hotel and review a number of the latest concepts as displayed through large, interactive placards and displays. Attendees were encouraged to fill out a survey and write — directly on the display boards — what they loved and hated about the ideas.

Below you’ll find a bunch of images made available to Little Village courtesy of the City of Iowa City. According to Geoff Fruin, assistant to the City Manager, these images are “preliminary concepts” that were developed after completing a comprehensive site assessment and gathering community input from the project’s June 2013 public meeting. Community members are encouraged to continue leaving feedback through the Inspire Downtown IC website.

These concepts will continue to undergo revision based on comments and feedback received during last week’s open house meeting at the Sheraton hotel, Fruin notes. A similar open house will be held this November, allowing the public to review the next evolution of the project. Bear in mind that more detailed explanations of these ideas are available via Inspire Downtown IC. At last week’s event, in fact, these images were accompanied by nuanced insight into things like directional lighting, rainwater mitigation and other details that may not be immediately evident in the broader concept illustrations seen below.

City officials hope to have a finalized plan and accompanying report completed in January 2014. A map of the potentially affected areas of downtown is available here.

Washington Street

Washington Street during the day

Washington Street at night

Gilbert Street

Gilbert Street

Iowa Avenue

Iowa avenue during the day

Iowa Avenue at night

Clinton Street

Clinton Street during the day

Clinton Street at night

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Dubuque Street

Dubuque Street during the day

Dubuque Street at night

Linn Street

Linn Street

Market Street

Market Street during the day

Market Street at night

The Pedestrian Mall

Option A

Pedmall option A

Option B

Ped Mall option B

Option A

Ped Mall option A

Option B

Ped Mall option B

Burlington Street

Burlington Street at night


  1. Most great cities have classic water fountains. Fountains provide intangible human satisfaction which is rarely achieved through other means. Iowa City should seriously consider installing a classic water fountain at the North entrance to the Pedestrian Mall instead of going with Options A or B shown here.

    Option A is not very inviting. There is no attractant, nothing alive and inspiring to draw one in. And it looks like thousands of other malls, humdrum, nothing to distinguish it but an insipid sign.

    Option B does feature some water, but this kind of design (Small water spouts coming from ground level, however wonderful it is for children, should be placed near the children’s play area, away from the street.) does not serve the needs of adults. For centuries memorable cities have given pride of place to large water fountains. This is an element of culture that has been retained — because it works!

    Water fountains are where special things happen in peoples’ lives, small and large. Water attracts people to congregate, to discuss, to think, to slow down, to go deeper. This is what people remember. This is what they talk about and what they come back to visit year after year after year.

    If there were a classic fountain at the North entrance to the walking street, there would be no need for an insipid sign saying, ” Iowa City” or “Pedestrian Mall.” The fountain, alive with water during the warmer months and a classic sculpture year round, would be the city’s signature piece. No need for a sign.

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