In the 1912 competition winning scheme for Canberra, Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin utilised the power of streets; proposing a city of avenues that demonstrated a deep resonance with the site, sensitivity to nature and a clear and precise understanding of and vision for Australian democratic society.
The crowning piece of this street network was to be the Grand Boulevard, or Consititution Avenue, as it is now known. Modeled on the world’s greatest boulevards, it would be the city’s high street and premier address with the highest density of commercial and residential buildings. The base of the city’s central triangle, the avenue would also provide an address for some of the main cultural buildings of the recreation areas adjacent to Lake Burley Griffin.
Our team is set to realise Griffin’s Avenue system and Grand Boulevard, in a manner that is by no means nostalgic, but forward looking and visionary. As an urban project it still possesses the potential to overhaul the way Canberra is traversed – improving the pedestrian journey, the driving experience, the potential to include high capacity transit modes as well as greatly improving the civic character and functioning of central Canberra.
Like Paris’ Champs-Elysses or Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue, Constitution Avenue’s successful upgrade will establish it as one of the memorable urban boulevards and vistas of the world. The resolution of its legible structure through fine, strong materials and detailing in the public domain will lend the Avenue an appropriate civic decorum, while making space for all the transit needs of a 21st century city.