The Public Square and the City
Planners have recognized the economic and cultural potential associated with healthy civic places. The reclamation of outdoor public places is increasingly emphasized by advocates of thriving and healthy American cities. Most city squares ceased to function in the latter part of the twentieth century as urban centers declined, traditional community activities slowed, and commercial functions moved to the suburbs. More importantly, the loss of public space for assembly, socializing, and reflection has resulted in an impoverishment of civic life. The failure of many large-scale rehabilitation projects to fully realize their part in the public realm results from an emphasis on economic development without consideration of the direct benefit public places can provide to the community as incubators of the civic good.
StudioAmmons submitted a proposal for the redesign of the historic Seventeenth Street or First Market Square in Shockoe Bottom. We publish the proposal now in the hope that it will help to clarify widely-held concerns about the City’s recently published Ballpark plan. The baseball stadium was not part of the “First Market Square” proposal originally solicited by the city. We are convinced that the ballpark plan will negatively affect the quality of the Market Square and its neighborhood.
StudioAmmons’ proposal is intended to revitalize the First Market Square by ensuring that it will serve the city in multiple ways:
- as an active framework for urban life
- as an engaging and flexible public place
- as an attraction in its own right to increase tourist visitation to the neighborhood
- as a catalyst for the relocation of small business to the area, including artists, creative businesses, and restaurants
- as an embodiment of the local ethos to ensure longterm vitality