Fountain Square update

Last month, I posted some concerns that I had regarding the Fountain Square project. In the comments, I was contacted by the firm responsible for the redesign. Last Friday I met with Eric Fulford from NINebark, along with Paul Baumgarten of SEND, and they brought renderings of their vision for the project. There’s also a longer PDF of the groups long-term vision (warning, this link is only live for 14 days or 500 downloads). They were gracious enough to let me post the square’s renderings here:

They also assured me that the removal of the parking lane along Prospect Street was only temporary.

Major features of the project include:

  • The creation of crosswalks that are shorter in distance, meaning that pedestrians will be less at-risk than they are currently. Most significantly, the cars going north on Shelby will come to a stop further south, making the crosswalk more prominent and obvious to drivers.
  • A smaller left turn from westbound Prospect Street to southbound Shelby, which initially concerned me. However, they are also moving the curb out towards the square on the west side of the street.
  • The creation of a public plaza in place of a present-day parking lot. I was previously aware of this part of the project, but it certainly deserves a mention.

Moving back to the PDF of their long term vision, the most exciting aspect for me was the reconfiguration of Woodlawn Avenue along its historic alignment, freeing up a ton of space for new development. It’s a great idea, but until it receives funding, it will remain on the drawing board.

It was great to meet with these gentlemen, and I wish them success.

Comments 14

  • The fact that you were contacted by the firm tells me that people are reading this blogs out there. To that end, I commend you for doing such a good job!

    Great report on the project

  • If everything in the pdf comes together, the area could, in my opinion, become a better district than Mass Ave. I really like the details they have put in regarding curb bump outs, neon signs, sidewalk patterns, etc. which should make the pedestrian experience far greater. This eases a lot of my concerns with the project and I hope the businesses owners really get behind it (because a lot of what was in the pdf was to encourage this and encourage that).

    Glad you got to meet with them and share what you learned. It really helps a lot!

  • I have to say, a lot of the ideas seem pretty strong, but I'm not completely convinced of all of them. I appreciate the concept of the public plaza but am not necessarily sold on the design of the plaza. It looks to be little more than a concrete slab. I hope there will be of an inclusion of natural elements…i.e. trees…as part of the plan. I do agree, that Fountain Square can surpass Mass Ave. It has much more potential but has a number of lots which need to be redeveloped to get to that point.

  • Sounds awesome! I also love the downtown illustrations.

  • Thanks for the comments.

    Brian, they mentioned the material in the plaza will be asphalt pavers that will match what the Cultural Trail is using. I do think they could use some more trees, however.

  • Anybody can make a nice rendering. I'll reserve judgment until we see the actual product.

  • I agree with the Urbanophile. Most people get caught up in 'pretty' renderings which do not necessarily focus on many design aspects…like scale and materials. I have to say, that intersection is such a strong and unique destination architecturally, there does not seem to be the need for an over designed space. The curb bump-outs with a more classic treatment: new fountian, some pavement variation, functional street furniture and some urban shade trees would be enough. I'm still having a problem with the limestone 'outcroppings' which seems more appropriate for those corporate landscapes. i think it's easy to over-design at times and I hope that will not be the case here. Anything is better than what's present. I'm sure it will tie into the Cultural Trail quite well. Fountain Square is FINALLY getting some TLC!!

  • You raise a good point about the limestone, anon. That's probably my biggest concern as well.

  • The thing that strikes me about the renderings is all the street pavement that will remain.

    For instance, why keep that little chute of street between the new fountain and the Fountain Square Theater building? So that a thousand cars a day continuing north on Shelby have a way to get there? Why not route that traffic around the "lost block" of Shelby by way of Virginia and Woodlawn?

    Getting rid of that curb lane would have allowed the new fountain to be part of a plaza on the east side of the street. It would have created sidewalk dining space for those places in the theater building, too.

  • I hear you about that Thunder. They said they originally going to close that stretch of Shelby and were just responding to neighborhood concerns to people who drive on that stretch. Don't know if that's a great answer, but that's what they said.

  • Closing that strip of Shelby would be brilliant, and purusing the Woodlawn reroute, and eliminating the "junk yard" on Virginia and Woodlawn that currently stands. It would be worth the neighbors agressively pursuing to get these projects done right.

  • To reiterate, the limestone just looks random and foreign with this setting. The only purpose it serves is traffic calming, but there are more subtle ways to do this. I think Indianapolis has yet to set a great example to design urban spaces for BOTH cars and pedestrians. Too often designers just want to get rid of the cars—not a solution. We live in a car cultured city and should realize this. Furthermore, cars add to the vibrancy of the urban landscape here, especially for business. We need to be more creative to design MULTI-USE spaces to live, work and play…not OVER-DESIGNED spaces that merely act as a show piece or a bad example of art.

  • Oh no. So it appears they are planning on leaving those terrible concrete bollards in front of the new/old fountain? What a design travesty!

  • The new fountain is beautiful, kudos for that. But the "broken pavers" or whatever they are and the rounded objects that surround this delicate lookiing fountain are just BIZARRE. It's like we now have a beautiful and refined european style fountain surrounded by what looks like the broken up refuse from a construction site, I really hope they surround that fountain with something much better than what they have at this point. It's horrible.

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