Kanawha Plaza

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Transforming an underused urban plaza into a vibrant mixed-use destination through public-private partnership.

The Lamar Johnson Collaborative authored the winning design in the James River Green Building Council’s 2013 Green Spaces Design Competition for the reimagining of Kanawha Plaza, a prominent but under-utilized park in Downtown Richmond. Despite its location at the heart of city, the plaza currently feels like an island, disconnected from its urban context by a depressed expressway, multiple-lane roadways and neighboring buildings with little or no ground floor activity.

The Lamar Johnson Collaborative’s approach was to propose a public-private partnership resulting in a 175,000-square-foot, mixed-use development that would activate the space with visitors and workers, while providing a permanent source of funding for the maintenance and programming of the park. In this scheme, the building and the park function together as a welcoming destination where people work, play, shop and share, helping to revitalize downtown. The building forms an urban edge and brings down the scale of the space to create a more inviting place with a variety of amenities including an outdoor performance venue, an interactive water feature, a retail and farmer’s market area, and an interactive LED display that brings the building itself to life, revealing the activities within to the city around it.


James River Green Building Council


Richmond, Virginia


3 Acres


  • Landscape Architecture
  • Planning + Urban Design


ASLA STL Chapter 2014 Honor Award in Planning, Research, and Communications James River Green Building Council Green Spaces Competition Winner