LEXINGTON, Ky. - After several weeks of behind-the-scenes action, a winner of the Town Branch Commons design competition will be selected this week. Five design firms were invited to submit their proposals for creating a narrow park and water feature through downtown Lexington.
“[The entries] are actually sealed up in packages sitting in the Downtown Arts Center at the moment. And so the jury will see them for the first time on Friday when the teams are in town to present,” says Jeff Fugate of the Lexington Downtown Development Authortiy.
The idea of Town Branch Commons stems from the work of a task force that made recommendations last year to renovate Rupp Arena and create an arts and entertainment district.
“Part of the fun of this kind of a competition is having your eyes opened to ideas that you’d never thought of before, having people challenge what you think are fixed objects and constraints, and revealing opportunities that you may not have seen before,” says Fugate.
The five finalist firms are:
- Coen + Partners, Minneapolis
- Civitas, Denver
- Inside Outside: Petra Blaisse, Amsterdam
- JDS / Julien De Smedt Architects, Copenhagen
- SCAPE / LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, New York
Each finalist firm will receive $15,000 for its work, paid for through a private gift.
“What we want is something that is aspirational, something is inspirational, but is also grounded in reality. And so it’s not just an academic exercise to imagine what could be. It’s more about this is the first step to making this a reality,” says Fugate.
Lexington was founded on the banks of Town Branch Creek, and the water still flows underneath downtown streets.
A five-member jury will make their selection Friday for the project. That recommendation will be voted on by the Downtown Development Authority Board next Monday afternoon.