February 13, 2010 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Here’s a challenge to the traditional notion of public space as a “town square” or “village green”: You’ve got an unsafe under bridge area within an existing viaduct not so suitable for planting or creating a verdant space. Architects James Dallman and Grace La of Milwaukee design studio La Dallman met the challenge by converting the area into a civic gathering space for film festivals, regattas, and other river events. Due to the lack of natural daylight for plant growth, the area could not be, as the designers explain, “defined through landscape design in the conventional sense; rather, concrete benches are set amidst a moonscape of gravel and seating boulders.”
Pedestrians and bicyclists now have a place of respite with benches as they make their way across the Marsupial Bridge. By night the benches are lit from within, transforming the Plaza into a beacon for the neighborhood. I love it.
Photos courtesy of La Dallman.