Congress Square Redesign

Public Meeting #3 on Schematic Design March 16, 2017
The third and final schematic design public meeting for Congress Square Redesign will be:

Thursday, March 16th
Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, Longfellow Room
5:30-7:30pm

This meeting will include a presentation by WRT on the next iteration of the landscape design concept for Congress Square.

Free and open to the public, public comment will be taken at the meeting and online.  No RSVP required.

Thank you to our host, the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel.

Public Meeting Schedule (January 2017)

City staff will present the Congress Square materials to the following city boards/committees for feedback and review:
Disability Advisory Committee: Wednesday, January 4, 11am (Room 24)
Historic Preservation Board: Wednesday, January 4, 6:45pm (Room 209)
Parks Commission: Thursday, January 5, 5:00pm (Room 24)
Bicycle Pedestrian Committee:  Monday, January 9, 5:30pm (Room 209)
Planning Board: Tuesday, January 10, 4:30pm (Council Chambers)
Land Bank Commission: Thursday, January 12, 5:00pm (Room 24)


Project Updates (December 2016)

Public Meeting #2 (12.15.16): Summary report and design concept from WRT/Sze Studio  here
Public Meeting #2 (12.15.16): CTN video link here
Feedback on the concept will be taken through January 15th - submit comments here
Link to the Vision Statement and Program Requirements

Project Updates (November 2016)
Storefront Workshop (October 2016): Summary report and design concept from the WRT  here 

Project Updates (September 2016)
Congress Square Storefront Workshop

Design Team WRT and Artist Sarah Sze will conduct a three-day storefront workshop to develop concepts for the Congress Square Redesign.  Interested parties and the general public are invited to attend public open houses to participate in the design process.


Thank you to our in-kind sponsors: Think Tank Coworking, The Art Mart, Tandem Coffee Roasters, and Otto Pizza



Project Updates (August 2016)
Congress Square Public Art Forum on August 8th - 

video now available here.


Project Updates (June 2016)
Congress Square Public Art Finalists Announced


The Portland Public Art Committee is pleased to announce that four artists have been selected as finalists for the Congress Square Public Art Commission.  The artists will be invited to Portland for interviews with the selection committee, a site visit, and a public presentation on August 8th. 

The selected artist’s work will include developing a concept for public art to be sited in Congress Square in collaboration with WRT, the design team selected last month,  who will create a concept for Congress Square as a whole. 

The four artist finalists are (in alphabetical order): 

     Ned Kahn (Sebastopol, CA)

     Patrick Marold (Denver, CO)

     Matthew Ritchie (New York City, NY)

     Sarah Sze (New York City, NY)


Project Updates (May 2016)
Design Team Selected for Congress Square 

The City of Portland is pleased to announce that WRT (Wallace Roberts & Todd) of Philadelphia has been selected as the design team for the Congress Square Redesign project.  The WRT team also includes urban horticulturalist Patrick Cullina, graphic designer BlueCadet, and civil and traffic engineers Sebago Technics.  Design work is expected to begin in August or September of this year.  The artist selection for the public art commission is still under review; finalists for the public art will be announced in June and those artists will be invited to give a public presentation at the end of July or beginning of August.

WRT website: http://www.wrtdesign.com/

Congress Square Redesign project awarded NEA Our Town and Quimby Family Foundation grants 

PORTLAND, Maine-- National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced 64 awards totaling $4.3 million supporting projects across the nation through the NEA’s Our Town program.  The City of Portland, partnering with the Portland Public Art Committee and the Friends of Congress Square Park, is one of the recommended organizations for an award of $25,000 to the Congress Square Redesign project. The Our Town grant program supports creative placemaking projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core. The NEA received 240 applications for Our Town this year and will make awards ranging from $25,000 to $100,000.
“For six years, Our Town has made a difference for people and the places where they live, work, and play,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Projects such as the one led by the City of Portland help residents engage the arts to spark vitality in their communities.”
“Receiving an Our Town grant would not have happened without our strong community partnerships.  Recognition from the NEA is truly encouraging and shows us that we are on the right track with this project,” said City Councilor Jill Duson, who serves on the Public Art Committee. 

Link to Congress Square Redesign Public Forum Q&A

Project Updates (April 4, 2016)

Congress Square Redesign Public Forum 
Wednesday, May 4th
Portland Museum of Art auditorium
Doors open at 5:00pm
Event 5:30 - 7:30pm
Public presentation by each finalist with Q&A session to follow
Free and open to the public.

If you cannot attend the event, there are still ways to participate:
- watch the presentations online at CTN's website or the project page (available after May 4th)
- read the applications online (below)
- fill out the online survey form here through May 8th

Project Updates (March 23, 2016)

The City of Portland Planning & Urban Development Department is pleased to announce that four design teams have been selected as finalists for the Congress Square Redesign project.  Twelve submissions were received for the design contract, four will proceed to round 2 of the selection process which will include interviews with the selection committee, a site visit, and a public presentation.  The scope of work will include developing a schematic design for the entire Congress Square in coordination with an artist who will create a concept for public art.  The artist selection for the public art commission is still under review and will be announced in the Spring.

The four finalist design teams are (in alphabetical order):  CRJA – IBI, Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture, Terry DeWan & Associates with Olin Studio, WRT

The finalists will speak at a public forum on Wednesday, May 4th to be held in the Portland Museum of Art auditorium from 5:30 – 7:30pm.  The event will be free and open to the public, though RSVP will be required for capacity reasons, and will include a presentation from each finalist and a question and answer session.  “The public forum will create an opportunity for the community to learn about the prospective consultants and provide input on the finalists.  We want to hire design professionals that the community will be excited about and who will be good partners with the City and the selected artist,” said project manager and City Urban Designer Caitlin Cameron.  An online survey will also be available to gather community input about the finalists.  Stakeholders and the general public will be invited to provide feedback and participate throughout the design process.

Project Updates (March 2016)
Selection committees are current reviewing the design and public art applications.  The City received 12 design applications and 97 artist applications.  The finalists will be notified and announced publicly in March.  A public forum will be held Wednesday, May 4th where both design and art finalists will present their work and reactions to Congress Square as a site.  Public feedback will be collected as part of that process.

By the summer, the City will hire the design team and the artist to begin work on concepts for Congress Square.  The project scope includes a redesign of the entire Congress Square intersection and the commission of public artwork. These concepts will be used to further fundraise to implement the project.

The project team has also applied for several grants including the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town and ArtWorks grants, and the ArtPlace America grant to help fund the project.

Project Updates (December 2015)

The Planning Office and Portland Public Art Committee are moving forward with an open call for designers and artists to create concepts for the Congress Square Redesign project.  The City is releasing two Requests for Qualifications (RFQ) in December, 2015 to hire a design team and an artist to concurrently develop schematic designs for the Congress Square intersection and a public art commission.  The design concept will start with the roadway layout that was developed with KMDG/Utile and the City's traffic engineers.  One significant change in the project since 2013/2014 is the ability to now hire the designer and artist at the same time to create a truly integrated public art installation.  

A public forum will be held in May, 2016 where design and art finalists will present their work to the Portland community as part of the final selection process.  Details about that event will be posted in early 2016.  

The Congress Square Redesign project has developed into a public-private partnership with many community stakeholders.  Currently, the Friends of Congress Square Park has a memorandum of understanding with the City of Portland to act as placemaking managers, providing amenities and events in Congress Square Park.  In 2015 there were 122 events, 285 artist and performers, 60 volunteers, and new furniture and temporary art added to the space thanks to the efforts of this neighborhood group.  FoCSP in partnership with Project for Public Spaces won a Southwest Heart of the Community Grant for 2015/2016 and continues to program the space and provide observation and data which will be used to inform the redesign project.

In 2014, the Council weighed two options for Congress Square Park - Option 1, a ground-level park in the current footprint or Option 2, an elevated public park over an event center.  In Council Order 34 14/15, the Congress Square Redesign Study Group (CSRSG) was tasked to evaluate these two options and report back to the Council by November 17, 2014.  
The CSRSG sent a communication to the Council on November 17 recommending (10-5 in favor, 1 abstention) Option 1, the Ground-level option be pursued for Congress Square Park.  Council received the communication and referred the topic to the Land Bank and Parks Commission.  The Land Bank and Parks Commissions placed the Congress Square Redesign project as a high priority and allocated $35,000 towards this effort.

Latest project materials may be found below.  Complete packets from public meetings may be found in the Agenda Center and on the CSRSG webpage.
The latest project materials may be found below.  Full packets, agendas, and minutes from public meetings may be found on the Agenda Center and the CSRSG page.
The latest project materials may be found below.  Full packets, agendas, and minutes from public meetings may be found on the Agenda Center and the CSRSG page.
The latest project materials may be found below.  Full packets, agendas, and minutes from public meetings may be found on the Agenda Center and the CSRSG page.

Congress Square includes the intersection of High and Congress Streets, Congress Square Plaza, the public spaces in front of the Portland Museum of Art and the H. H. Hay building, and surrounding sidewalks and traffic islands.  The Congress Square Redesign project seeks to improve this important public open space in the heart of the Arts District.  
On August 2, 2013, the City of Portland launched a visioning process for the redesign of Congress Square. The goal of this process was to create a shared vision for Congress Square as an urban open space and focuses on the activities and uses that might happen throughout the spaces within the square. The community serves as important placemaking partners in this process which informs the redesign project. 

Vision Statement: Congress Square is a high quality, distinctive urban space that epitomizes the Arts District while remaining accessible and inviting to all. Year-round, the Square provides a welcome break in the dense, historic district street wall where one encounters a range of activities including events and installations that celebrate local arts and culture, and fosters spontaneity, informal gathering, and fun.  As a gateway intersection, the redesigned Congress Square places priority on the pedestrian experience and safety while accommodating all transportation modes in an efficient manner.  

Contact us - For more information contact Urban Designer Caitlin Cameron. Call 207-874-8901 or email ccameron@portlandmaine.gov

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