Market Square Park–Another Reincarnation

Market Square Park until 2009Market Square Park’s 2nd reincarnation was to the traditional style of being a place to sit and relax when rushing on to the next meeting or for a quiet stroll with your dog-and hopefully a plastic bag. The park included several significant art pieces, two great fountains, interesting historic pieces and numerous oak trees. But it had various issues that did not let it be an asset to the neighborhood. The new park is being constructed at the time of this post and will be complete in June, 2010.

The aerial photo here shows the walkways crisscrossing the park that were offset at the center creating a plaza. Besides creating the plaza the configuration prevented the walkways from appearing to be causeways to the other corner.

Market Square Park prior to 2009 Looking northwest to the Congress/Milam intersection The round "portals" below the concrete seat were lights,  along time ago.

That was good but the triangular grassed areas that could be ideal for sitting on the ground reading a book were also perfect as dog “comfort” areas. Often the dog’s humans did not use the plastic bags they should have brought. Therefore, the grassed areas were littered with brown piles and not used by anyone else.

The park was primarily a place only to walk through in the day time–it was too dark for most people to walk through at night. There were up-lights in the plaza area and lights below the concrete bench/wall but water continuously infiltrated the fixtures. Maintenance was costly, replacement fixtures and lenses were no longer sold to fit the space cast in the concrete.

Eventually the majority of the lights were dark, the trees loomed in the un-lite grassed area and the walkway at night felt low and a little scary.  Often someone could be found “sleeping” on the benches causing the person strolling or walking to the other side to turn back to the sidewalk and go around. Up-lights were added in the trees and that helped. But the walkways still were dark and not inviting.

So, the Downtown District teamed up with the Main Street Redevelopment Authority and the City’s Parks and Recreation Department to recreate this very important block.

Schematic Design for the New Market Square Park, January 2009The coming reincarnation of Market Square Park is shown here with the multiple things to do.  The new plan is the creation of Lauren Griffith Associates based on a concept plan developed by Project for Public Spaces who lead community workshops to learn what is wanted.  The concept supported PPS’s goal of many destinations with many things to do in each one.  The park is still intended to be a neighborhood park–but with things to do.

There will be a dog run with plastic bag dispenser but they will not have the full park to serve as a latrine. Don’t get me wrong as the problem is not the dogs. The problem is the owners and the dog run is to contain them and manage their frequent lack of concern. There will be a small food service area staffed by a local favorite greek restaurant, Niko Nikos. All seating will be outdoor.  It will require on-going programming but not in the same way or to the same extent as Discovery Green.

I believe it will succeed because the plan includes more than just a great concept and design. It also includes good construction and long-term funding for great management and some programming above and beyond what the City can provide.

Click here to see a very cool, Google Sketchup animation illustrating the design by Lauren Griffith of Lauren Griffith and Associates.

Click here for more park history and here for a location map.

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4 Responses to “Market Square Park–Another Reincarnation”

  1. Barry Noss says:

    It is simple to see that you are very informed about your writing. Looking forward to future posts.Thank you.

  2. Don Themot says:

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  3. John says:

    hey, nice blog…really like it and added to bookmarks. keep up with good work

  4. Robyne says:

    I was just talking about this park in my Urban Studies class today and tried to give them the image of the old park and how it violated the criteria for public space as set by Whyte. Very glad to see the new space is much more user friendly.

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