Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Ideas for Austin (Part 3)

For the start of the ideas series, go here.  For parts one and two for Austin MN, go here and here.

5. An Open Plaza

I see in the Austin 2020 project, a push to make downtown Austin something of a destination.  "Establish downtown Austin as a premier small city center, with development of a park/plaza gathering area to host outdoor events throughout the year."  I think this is an excellent idea.  Allow me to offer some specific recommendations. 
A plaza would be excellent, but make it open.  A plaza suggests a wide stone or brick area.  The corners will have shaded areas, with benches.  Perhaps a statue or sculpture at some place.  All fine.  But leave the middle open.  Don't put a fountain or more benches there. 
If you want to have outdoor events, then keep in mind how something in the middle breaks up the event.  A concert only has half the space, as does any public gathering where people are trying to see something at one end.  Yes, it will look bare when it's not in full use.  Don't worry about that. 
One more suggestion, if you will.  Build up one corner of the plaza into something of an amphitheater.  This will allow for small concerts, speeches and other presentations.  Keep in mind wind patterns and sunlight. 

4. Festival(s)?

Of course, the question becomes, what kind of events should be held?  Austin does a fine job with the 4th of July events each year.  The ArtWorks festival is also very good.  Both could use the plaza.  But what else? 
  • Music festivals?  
  • A festival to celebrate various world cultures?
  • A release of sky lanterns?
All of them sound fun!  What I'd suggest is to let a thousand festivals bloom.  Open up the plaza to various quirky parties and see what happens.  See what sticks.  Look at a list like this.  These weren't thought up by a sober town board.  They were brought about by people having fun.


Heidi said...

Big tree with a lighting ceremony. Austinaires could sing. There could be a giving tree. Small food carts or booths with hot cocoa, mini dioughnuts..

DD4 said...

May 1, there could be a Maypole dance for elementary age. With a large Hispanic population, Cinco de Mayo could be celebrated. In summer, it could be the spot for the Farmers' Market. Later in summer or early fall there could be a Back to the 50's car show, or square dancing. I like the town square idea, Peder!

-Peder said...

All great ideas!