Therapeutic Streetscapes: A New Bell Street Designed to Accommodate Those on the Autism Spectrum
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The rate of children and adults being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is rapidly rising throughout the United States. The CDC now estimates that 1 in 68 children are on the autism spectrum. At the same time cities across the United States are in a period of growth not seen since before World War Two. As more and more people move back to cities we need to consider designing for people with autism, a growing group of urban populations. Current urban design standards and guidelines do not advocate for ASD focused elements. This thesis explores existing ASD guidelines, creating a framework for making public spaces more comfortable for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Using previous studies and best practices information, I combine research regarding ASD architectural guidelines, Therapeutic Garden design, and best practices for Streetscape Design. This project creates a new streetscape typology designed to accommodate those on the autism spectrum. The proposal is located within Belltown a neighborhood in Downtown Seattle. Belltown is the densest neighborhood in Seattle, extremely walkable, great transit and a large number of affordable housing units. The final design of the project includes multiple elements that could be applied to urban design and streetscape designs around the country as a way to consider the ASD population in the creation of our public spaces.