An interactive environment where students and visitors to the Grand Center Arts District can gather and engage with the activity of the surrounding community.
Working in collaboration with Land Collective, Grand Center, Inc., and the Grand Center District’s constituents, Lamar Johnson Collaborative led the design of the Arts Academy Plaza, a new public parklet on Grand Avenue. Arts Academy Plaza is one of the keystones of the Growing Grand Plan which strives to turn 30 acres in the heart of Saint Louis’ cultural neighborhood into a “special event district” and “an epicenter of creativity that serves the aesthetic and economic needs of artists, patrons, tourists and the entire St. Louis community.” The Arts Academy Plaza serves as an anchor project on Grand Avenue and is situated diagonally across from the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and adjacent to The Grand Center Arts Academy – an arts school in St. Louis that focuses on dance, orchestra, band, visual arts, choir, and theater.
The design of Arts Academy Plaza creates an interactive environment, providing a variety of impromptu spaces for students, performers, and fans to engage throughout all hours of the day. A series of seating terraces help frame these spaces while mitigating the 4’ grade change that occurs from Grand Avenue to the Grandel Theatre. An amphitheater and series of harvest tables accommodate larger groups of patrons and provide outdoor dining space for the local eateries beneath the protection of the tree canopy.
The transformation of Arts Plaza also helps to reinforce the historic street edge of Grand Avenue. An extensive bioswale collects and treats site stormwater runoff and acts as a buffer from the street to ‘The Harvest Grove’. A series of architectural light poles contribute to the artistic significance of Grand Ave and delicately string together the firefly-like catenary lights, providing a gentle ambiance during evening events.