Friday, February 19, 2010

BREAKING: Lawrence Halprin-designed Park Central Square added to the National Register of Historic Places

The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) issued a press release February 17, 2010, to announce the addition of Park Central Square to the National Register of Historic Places.

According to TCLF, Springfield is now the location of the first work by landcape architect designer Lawrence Halprin to be added to the National Register. The designation was made official by Director of the National Park Service Jon Jarvis on February 5, 2010.

"This followed a decision on January 25, 2010, by Ms. Carol Shull, the Acting Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, to approve the boundary expansion of the Springfield Public Square historic district to include Park Central Square," the press release stated.

Founder and President of TCLF Charles A. Birnbaum indicated Director of the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office Mark Miles notified him of the designation. It was the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office which prepared and submitted the National Register nomination to the National Park Service.

"This is great news for Springfield and for Mr. Halprin’s legacy. The city should be touting their progressiveness, possessing the first, nationally designated landscape on the National Register of Historic Places by Mr. Halprin," Birnbaum wrote in an email.

From the news release:

The addition of Park Central Square to the National Register is an important milestone in recognizing the important legacy of modernist landscape architecture and the career of Lawrence Halprin,” said TCLF president Charles A. Birnbaum. “This is significant since only two years ago the Square was headed for destruction.”

Birnbaum was also happy to announce the launch of an oral history project with Mr. Halprin. He indicated the project had been in development for almost seven years. So, if you'd like more information about the famous landscape architect and designer of Park Central Square, click here.

Although the Springfield News-Leader has been reporting there have been some behind the scenes discussions about the interior design renovations of Park Central Square between Springfield City staff and owner of the Heer's building Kevin McGowan, Springfield Director of Public Information Louise Whall said there is not a complete design available.

"The goal is to adapt as many of the original principles as possible into the new design, taking into account the amount of funding available and the need to respect the specific Halprin design elements that contribute to the historical character recognized by the state Historic Preservation Office," Whall wrote in an email.

Whall listed the major goals of renovation to the inner perimeter of the Halprin designed square:

* Taking down the concrete retaining walls that surround the inner perimeter and were not part of Halprin's original design. This would be to improve both accessibility and aesthetics. The retaining walls pose both literal and figurative barriers.

* Rehabbing the gazebo to address structural needs like replacing rotting wood, while maintaining the Halprin design concept

* Rehabbing the fountain, which needs major repairs to its internal waterworks

* Increasing lighting for aesthetic and security reasons

* Adding more built-in electrical capacity to improve its functionality for hosting events in terms of setting up sound and/or lighting systems.

Note: A big THANK YOU to Neva Schroder for calling this important news to the attention of "JackeHammer." JackeHammer wrote extensively about the issue of Halprin's Park Central Square when a local architectural firm announced a design concept which would have destroyed the integrity of the original Halprin design.



Busplunge said...

Hurrah for citizen journalism!

Thumbs up!

Jackie Melton said...

Thanks, Jim. :)

Anonymous said...

Great article! The News-Leader has been scooped again. They probably wish you were on their team.

This should add some further protection against any plans to vandalize the Square.

BBrown said...

Very interesting. Good job, Hammer!

Chestnut Expressway said...

Any thoughts of adding some "stockades" on the square to make it a bit more historic ??

I would think 5 or 6 would be nice for use with local dimwits who might need some correction for their actions. They could be built in a small circle with some benches in the middle.

This would help to draw the public downtown. The public could then talk to these dimwits, find out why they are dimwits, and help them not to be dimwits anymore.

A "stockade cam" could be added to provide some 21st century features.