Battersea Art and Landscape Plan
Building on the Battersea Rising quality of life plan, StudioAmmons continued to work with the neighborhood and partnering organizations to develop a plan for the integration of public art into all facets of the neighborhood's planning. From new public spaces and historic canal and towpath, to green-roofed pavilions and creative urban gardens, the Art and Landscape plan offers a wide range of possible approaches to taking the sometimes bleak and abandoned industrial edges of the neighborhood and giving them new life and new purpose - bringing beauty to the neighborhood in surprising new ways.
Battersea residents have recently formed a neighborhood organization and created, in partnership, with a variety of local and regional organizations (Virginia LISC, Pathways, Habitat for Humanity, Petersburg Housing Authority, ElderHomes, Historic Petersburg Foundation, among others) to create the “Battersea Rising” initiative. Focusing on the creation of the Quality of Life Plan for the neighborhood, this initiative is being developed by the residents themselves with local organizational and business support. Improving the look and feel of the neighborhood is high on the list of priorities presented in the Quality of Life Plan.
This study defines a set of projects that build on the ideas and recommendations presented in the Battersea Rising Quality of Life Plan. The integration of art projects into the fabric of neighborhood urban design improvements will create opportunities for resident involvement at every level in their new vision for the streets, walks, parks and houses of Battersea. Most of these projects will require close partnerships with the City and other civic organizations, supporting the residents as they lead the public dialogue on the redevelopment of their community.
VIEWS OF THE BATTERSEA NEIGHBORHOOD
PROJECT LOCATION MAP
GATEWAY URBAN SCULPTURE
The intersection of Canal and High Street is a primary gateway between the Battersea neighborhood and the city’s downtown. This location also sits near the city’s historic canal turning basin and the “Street of Mills” where water from the canal, on its way downhill to the river, powered a line of 19th century mills. Currently, a grass median occupies the intersection; creating a perfect opportunity for a large-scale work of art that could be focused on celebrating the unique heritage of this site and its importance in the development of the city.
MURAL AT THE ABUTMENTS
The abandoned railroad abutments at the West High Street gateway are powerful architectural forms. The addition of painted mural images set behind the column rows on each side will provide a welcoming and attractive entrance to the Battersea neighborhood. This project can be undertaken as part of Pathways’ urban mural program combining the skill and leadership of professional mural artists with local artists and neighborhood children and their families. These murals will contribute to the overall positive effect of the full scope of planned improvements to the Battersea gateway, including the central civic monument, the development of gardens, and the connection of the new canal art walk with the Appomattox River Heritage Trail.
To promote sustainable and responsible landscaping practices, a series of demonstration gardens will be developed and interpreted throughout the city. At the Battersea neighborhood gateway, a demonstration butterfly garden will be planted on the lot to north of the West High Street entrance. The garden will focus on both host and nectar plants to attract butterflies and will also feature butterfly sculptures. Signage will provide interpretive information to help residents understand how to create butterfly habitat in their own yards and throughout their neighborhood.
NEIGHBORHOOD ENTRANCE GARDEN
As the Industrial Softening Zone project improves the vista of Commerce Street, the neighborhood entrance garden project will welcome visitors into Battersea in multiple manners. The entrance garden will be developed with new walking paths, signage and plantings. At the street corner, new neighborhood identification signage will be installed with an accompanying garden. Just adjacent, a walking path connects South Street to the Canal Heritage Art Walk, following the same path of the old Seaboard System Railroad Line. An information kiosk, designed to match those located in other areas of the city, will be installed at the trailhead to inform visitors on the history and attractions of the neighborhood. Visitors will be welcomed into Battersea as they walk under a salvaged gateway arch towards the location of the historic turning basin. By reinvigorating an important gateway, the neighborhood entrance garden will contribute to the new look of the community and beautify one of the Battersea’s faces to the outside world.
INDUSTRIAL SOFTENING ZONE
Commerce Street essentially splits the Battersea neighborhood in two as the scale of the large industrial buildings is in stark contrast with the mostly historic single and double family houses on both sides. As these buildings are converted into apartments, there is an opportunity to better integrate Commerce Street into the neighborhood fabric by softening the industrial edges and creating improvements to the pedestrian ways along the road and at cross streets. This will be accomplished through the widening of sidewalks, installation of plantings, and sidewalk-scale street art to make the street less imposing and more pedestrian-friendly. Tile mosaic inset in the sidewalks will add color and detail at the pedestrian level, encouraging people to walk and stay fit while looking for their own mosaic tiles along this new city avenue. The mosaics can be created by local school children, businesses and residents from throughout the city to make it truly a citywide project.
Once an intersection of railroad and automobiles, West Street and the Canal Heritage Art Walk will become a safe crossing for pedestrians across the road while experiencing Battersea. To emphasize this location, small plazas on each side of the path will be developed with landscaping, art installations and gardens. Working through the community organization, the art installations will be designed by local artists and artisans to reflect the neighborhood’s heritage. At the plazas, gardens and landscaping will be developed, primarily using native plants and flowers in effort to minimize future maintenance. The crossroads green space and seating will reinforce the Canal Heritage Art Walk project as a whole and become a beautiful setting for residents and visitors along their walking tour of Battersea.
PATHWAYS FRONT YARD PARK
As a community center for the neighborhood, the Pathways Operations Center is a place for meeting, learning, sharing and working. Currently, outdoor spaces for gathering and sitting are limited, with no areas developed to facilitate larger assembly or outdoor classroom use. The Pathways Front Yard Park will provide an accessible public space available to all neighborhood residents and Pathways students. The students will make art for the public setting integrated into the design of a series of outdoor rooms intended for contemplation and interaction. Seating, planters, and park furniture will be designed as sculptural art projects by Pathways students working with local artists and artisans. Each addition to the park will create opportunities for the students to observe the impact that community-based projects can contribute to their neighborhood. These efforts are capable of fostering an understanding of the broader connection between individual acts and the building of strong and enduring community fabric.
CANAL HERITAGE ART WALK
The historic Appomattox Canal route passes through the center of the Battersea neighborhood. The original path of the canal, now infilled, follows Upper Appomattox Street. The site of the historic turning basin is located at its eastern terminus. The Seaboard Systems Railroad line (now removed) replaced the canal in the late 19th century leaving a sloping bank between Upper Appomattox Street and the industrial buildings to its south. The Canal Heritage Art Walk will be a walking path along the historic canal and rail way through the neighborhood featuring public sculpture and historic interpretation. This interpretation will focus on the roles the Canal and the railroad played in the City’s development. Primary trailheads will be created at both ends, one at the historic turning basin site and the other at gate of the Battersea Mansion. Through coordination with the City’s larger planning initiatives, the Art Walk will be connected to the Appomattox River Heritage Trail for a continuous walking path through and around the Battersea neighborhood. The eastern information trailhead for the Canal Heritage Art Walk will include artist-designed public seating and a sculptured landscape marking the basin’s location. The footprint of the historic turning basin will be determined by means of archaeological excavations preceding its construction.
PARK HOUSE MURAL AND GREEN ROOF
The McKenzie Street Park House sits underutilized along McKenzie Street at the entrance to the recreational fields and parking lot. To remedy this situation, the neighborhood can reinvigorate the building by setting up a demonstration green roof installation, a first for the city, along with interpretation to alert the residents and visitors to the benefits of sustainable living. The Park House will also serve as a location for neighborhood children to work with local artists, transforming it with murals that tie together the building’s architectural form and local themes. Through partnerships and collaborations between residents, the park will become a symbol of neighborhood pride and a positive symbol for a rising community.