Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Neighbors Helping Neighbors: A Partnership between a City and University Transforms Vacant Space into a Popular Plaza

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Neighbors Helping Neighbors: A Partnership between a City and University Transforms Vacant Space into a Popular Plaza

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Project: University Plaza, Hagerstown, Md.

Problem: Demolition of an old department store left a hole in the fabric of this western Maryland city. The introduction of a satellite campus for the University of Maryland (UMD), changes in the uses of this small urban area and renovation of adjacent buildings presented an interesting opportunity to fill the gap with an open space that could be enjoyed by a variety of users. Although the land had a property line through the middle, it needed to be used as a single open space and accommodate local commercial, office and university patrons.

Solution: The design solution created a formal green in this half-block site, as well as a new urban edge using brick and iron consistent with the existing streetscape. Maximizing the open space and providing flexibility for use was a major component of the design. In addition, terra cotta detailing in the adjacent UMD building inspired a search in a Baltimore salvage yard, yielding two terra cotta globes used as finials on the brick piers of the plaza's perimeter fence.

Lead Time:

Overall, the transformation of this area has been rapid. The $750,000 plaza opened just two years after a design charette took place. …

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