The project aims to jumpstart the rejuvenation of the public realm. Three distinct elements have been proposed for Southside Cultural Center: a courtyard, community garden, and an outdoor theater. The goal is to create a set of interrelated spatial relationships which define the social interactions on the site.
The courtyard park is positioned between the parking lot and the building. Low stone walls surround the entire zone while strategically placed trees offer a mix of shaded and sunny places throughout the day. This space is imagined as a gathering place for local families and children on the weekends or friends gathering informally before attending an event inside the Cultural Center. The planting design calls for fruit trees and decorative trees as the centerpiece of the landscape in the courtyard. Around the site, tall grasses offset the low walls while mixed seeding adds color and acts as low-growing ground cover.
The outdoor theater is designed to serve multiple functions. It can host programmed neighborhood gatherings, small concerts, dance, outdoor movies, and other spontaneous events that can spill out onto the flexible terraced lawn. A central path through the terraces can serve alternatively as a pedestrian walkway and a stage.
Along the gable end of Trinity Church, a screen is constructed from wood slats. It is installed in front of the facade and secured at strategic points to the mortar joints of the brick wall. In fair weather, a removable canvas screen can be hung from the slats to serve as a projection screen for neighborhood movie nights. String lights overhead bring a sense of human scale and festivity to the space.
The community garden is envisioned to provide fresh produce and plants while fostering a sense of community and connection to the environment. Some of the linear planters may grow only flowers while others are nurtured communally and their bounty shared with the community at large.
Safety was continually emphasized as a community priority during the planning and design process. Lighting, non-obstructive vegetation, and open sight lines will maximize visibility between park elements and the perimeter areas. The lighting plan is designed to augment safety on the site while creating dynamic visual effects depending on the time of day and seasonal changes. With the interplay of the built-in lighting elements, the design becomes animated and takes on the characteristics of its unique urban setting.