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Park Central Square Renovation Maintains Historic Feel

Park Central Square Springfield

Roughly One year and $1.8 million dollars later, the Park Central Square renovation is just about completed.  People who visit the square will be able to look forward to a restored historical atmosphere, as well as, additions to accommodate the modern public.  KSMU’s Matthew Barnes reports.

Originally planning a complete redesign and build over, The Department of Public Works opted for a renovation after the square was added into the National Register of Historic Places.  The original design by Lawrence Halprin was something the city should regain appreciation for, according to Tim Rosenbury Architect for Bulter, Rosenbury & Partners. 

“Halprin was one of the great landscape architect of the twentieth century. He would probably be ranked in the top 5 of any landscape architecture enthusiast list of modern landscape architects. Very influential in the redesign of public spaces and plazas in urban environments. Springfield is very fortunate to have a Lawrence Halprin landscape. We treated this as an historic object. But we also treated it as a place where we could find ways to enliven it by improving the space around the square to be a better pedestrian environment,” Says Rosenbury.

The main goal for the redesign was to make the square more accessible to the public. With clearer sightline in and out of the square and wheelchair access ramps assistant director of public works, Jonathan Gano says the city has achieved that goal.

“The street has been brought up, a sidewalk has been put on the far side, and walls were dropped down. So it feels like it’s a lot more open than it use to be. The fountain was completely gutted are renovated. The exterior is unchanged, was cleaned and touched up, but the inside was fitted with new pumps and much more energy efficient in the inner workings of the fountain.  So we’ve enhanced the square with what seems like minor changes that actually have a major impact while doing so in a way that preserves the vision the work of Lawrence Halprin,” Says Gano.

While the landscape has been maintained to keep the historical image, many things have been included, according to Gano.

“Additions to it included a sound system permanently mounted outside of the pavilion to permit almost professional quality outdoor concerts to be housed inside the stage on the pavilion. There’s perimeter lighting around the inside and there is interior lighting for the inside of the square so you can literally read a newspaper inside the square in the middle of the night,” Says Gano.

With all of the effort put into the renovation the Department of Public Works would like to see the square in use as soon as possible.  Rusty Worley executive director of the urban districts alliance says he wants the community to get very good use out of the square.

“We want to see more community events scheduled here whether it’s an outdoor reading room for the library, the YMCA have new workouts here. Other activities community groups we had “Taste of Springfield” here earlier, we’ll have the Christmas parades. We’ll help program this space and get people using it on a more regular basis,” Says Worley.

With the invitation for activity in the square also comes the possibility for more crime. However Worley says the security additions will likely be enough to discourage vandals.

“There is dramatically more lighting in the new redesign. Plus the addition of twelve security cameras, all that should really spell a much more open and more user friendly environment,” Says

The fences around the square will be taken down before 5pm today. For KSMU News, I’m Matthew Barnes.