Braided Streams and Sound Waves Inform a Contextually Sensitive Design
The transformation of a community’s downtown core celebrates Lawrenceburg’s authentic qualities.
For the City of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, MKSK has transformed a former asphalt parking lot into a green and vibrant urban landscape composed of gardens, bosques, grasslands, water, and rolling topography. Celebrated as a regional destination and center for the community, the new Lawrenceburg Civic Plaza dramatically represents the once fragmented vehicular landscape into a unified series of settings for people, nature, and programming.
The design was shaped by a community-led process involving several public meetings and workshops with city leadership and key stakeholders. Initial planning and urban design studies looked beyond the edges of the site and explored potential impacts and recommendations for future development within the emerging “entertainment district”. How would this new landscape interface with surrounding development and architecture? What type of development would this urban civic space promote?
The composition of form, materials, and flora is informed by and responds to the southern Indiana Ohio River corridor landscape—the flow and currents of the river, the iconic native limestone found throughout the region, the movement of people walking, running and playing through and within the space, and the waves of sound that stream from music, voices, and migrating birds and wildlife that participate and animate this urban context.
Programming for the park includes a series of activities ranging from individual seating to large community concerts and farmer’s market. The formal or event lawn is strategically tucked into the center of the site providing ample space for informal play, picnicking, sunbathing, and space for crowds to mingle during social and community events. Surrounding the event lawn are a series of gardens and tree bosques that provide refuge space within the plaza creating moments of color, shade, and seating opportunities. Anchoring the north end of the plaza is a new pavilion/stage, while the southern end of the plaza is anchored by an interactive water feature and space for outdoor cafes.
The transformation from a car-dominated, impermeable surface parking lot to a green urban park space promotes a sustainable transition for the City of Lawrenceburg and its residents—a significant investment in the future of downtown Lawrenceburg—socially, ecologically, and economically.