5 finalists to make presentations to design Town Branch Commons

bfortune@herald-leader.comJanuary 27, 2013 

Five finalists in the running to design Town Branch Commons will each make their pitch this week to tackle the project.

The finalists will make presentations, first, at a public meeting and later to a panel of judges. The winner will be announced on Feb. 4.

The landscape architecture firms will make public presentations at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Lexington Children's Theatre, introducing their work on other projects and talking about the impact large-scale public projects can have on a city, said Jeff Fugate, president of the Downtown Development Authority.

"I'm expecting to be surprised with the ideas they propose," Fugate said.

The individual proposals will not be unveiled at Thursday's meeting.

"Because it is a competition, we don't want one firm to see another firm's work before its presented to the judges," said Brandi Berryman, a DDA staff member managing the competition.

The five finalist firms are:

■ Coen + Partners, landscape architects from Minneapolis.

■ Civitas, a firm of landscape architects, architects and urban planners in Denver.

■ Inside Outside: Petra Blaisse, a landscape design firm in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

■ JDS / Julien De Smedt Architects, a firm focusing on architecture and design in Copenhagen, Denmark.

■ SCAPE / Landscape Architecture PLLC, a landscape architecture and urban design studio in New York City.

Jury presentations will be Friday in a closed door session before the judges. The designs will be on display at the Downtown Arts Center starting Feb. 4-22, including Gallery Hop on Feb. 15.

Town Branch Commons is envisioned as a 2-mile narrow, serpentine stretch of public space through downtown. It was a recommendation of the Rupp Arena, Downtown Arts & Entertainment master plan developed in 2011 by architect Gary Bates of the Norway-based architecture firm Space Group.

Bates' idea was to bring the historic waterway to the surface in some form and create a linear park, connecting the entertainment district on the west end with the rest of downtown.

Other public events are scheduled for these presentations.

Bradford McKee, editor of Landscape Architecture magazine will lead a discussion on Landscapes of Confrontation at 7 p.m. Wed., in the Gluck Equine Research Center auditorium, 1600 Nicholasville Road.

Architect Van Meter Pettit and urban planner Stan Harvey will offer insights on the history of Town Branch and the value of public projects to a city at the Lafayette Seminar in Public Issues at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Hilary J. Boone Center on the University of Kentucky campus. This event is sold out.

Pettit is president of Town Branch Trail Inc., a non-profit organization formed in 1998 to advocate for bringing Town Branch to the surface and creating parks and trails along its banks.

Beverly Fortune: (859) 231-3251.Twitter: @BFortune2010.

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