Celebrating Charlotte’s Historic West End

Five Points Plaza was a pilot project in the Historic West End of Charlotte, North Carolina. Gehl and Gehl Institute collaborated with local community partners to create a temporary public space for residents to socialize and celebrate the neighborhood’s unique history and culture. Public life tools (Age + Gender Count, People Moving Count, Intercept Survey, Stationary Activity Mapping) were used to collect data on how people moved and spent time in the neighborhood and the space itself, with specific interest in the relationship between people’s actions and the built environment.

Before the activation of Five Points Plaza, research showed the ways in which the Historic West End was a neighborhood with poor physical connectivity. Of four areas studied in Charlotte, Five Points had the lowest number of people walking, biking, and spending time in its public spaces and streets. Stationary Activity Mapping revealed that 78% of street activity comprised people standing and waiting for the bus. Yet bus stops often had no seating, shade, or cover from the rain (see: 12 Quality Criteria). The neighborhood offered even fewer invitations to stop and linger.