Cynthia Cohlmeyer Landscape Architect and Cohlmeyer Architecture Limited worked with the City of Regina to create a three-year plan to complete consultation, planning, urban design, architecture and landscape services related to Regina City Square. The project is known as a “Big Move” in the city’s Downtown Master Plan. The project is intended to liven up the City Centre and encourage pedestrian traffic and gathering. The designers worked to reorder traffic, transit and cycling routes, to try to make Regina a more pedestrian-oriented city. The space is now used for many events and festivals throughout the year, including the Regina Folk Festival and the Farmer’s Market (MALA, n.d.).
The location for the project is adjacent to the Victoria Park in downtown Regina, along 12th Avenue. Specifically, on 12th Avenue between Lorne Street and Scarth Street. Adjacent to the plaza are a few of Regina’s premier destinations and heritage buildings, including the Regina Public Library, The Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, The Hotel Saskatchewan, the Plains Museum, and the Globe Theatre. Surrounding the location are also many unique local shops, restaurants, and pubs.
For the project, one of the main goals was to tackle the high vehicular traffic flow and somehow reroute or revise the way the traffic and pedestrians move through the space. The project also aimed to specifically re-envision the area of 12th Avenue that connects Victoria Park and the Scarth Street Mall, so that the designers along with the city would make 12th Avenue a pedestrian-oriented street and claim it for public events. The size of the site was approximately 75,000 square feet.
PROJECT BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
Near the end of 2007, the City of Regina met with a consultant from Office for Urbanism to create a comprehensive development plan for the downtown area of the city. After this, public engagement and consultation gave the team an idea as to what the desires of the residents are. A draft concept plan was submitted to the City Council for review and worked on a recommendation plan to be submitted in 2009. The purpose of this was to begin a plan to create a more vibrant and sustainable downtown, that is thriving and attractive to residents, visitors, shoppers and businesses (City of Regina Annual Report, 2008).
In 2009, the annual report noted the implementation of the Regina Downtown Neighbourhood Plan, which included the City Square project, intended to convert 12th Avenue, north of Victoria Park into a festival plaza. The plan provided the framework for the downtown development over 20 years, until 2029, hoping to bring 5,000 new residents to the area (City of Regina Annual Report, 2009).
By 2010, the construction for the new plaza was underway, including renovations such as widening the sidewalks, landscaping, enhanced lighting, seating, with intentions to open the plaza during the summer of 2011.
GOAL OF THE PROJECT
The goals for the project were to enliven the City Centre, reorder traffic, transit and cycling routes, expand the pedestrian realm, and claim 12th Avenue for public events (MALA, n.d.). The designers also wanted to stimulate the city centre, so that commercial and community activity can be facilitated in the space (Colhmeyer Architecture, n.d.).
DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, AND DECISION MAKING PROCESS
After consulting with the City of Regina, the design team and the city investigated the desires of the residents and discovered a need for a revitalized public square.
The designers created custom-made stainless steel cables to house overhead LED lights. The lighting allows the transitional space between Victoria Park and Scarth Street Mall to be a well-used pedestrian street.
The designers implemented seating along the south edge of the plaza, as outdoor living rooms. They used structural vaults that are placed underneath paving in the rooms to provide soil and rooting space for young trees. Sculptural light fixtures illuminate the square, while also featuring plugins for vendors, street musicians, and audio systems for large performances.
Because the underground services that were previously implemented prohibit the planting of trees along the plaza’s north side, the designers had to come up with a different solution that would provide shade. Dramatic ornamental structures were designed that shades vendors, performers, and pedestrians from the sun, in addition to illuminating the backdrop for the square.
ROLE OF DESIGNERS
The designers were tasked with creating a redevelopment plan for an inviting, new urban district for city gathering. The designers comprised an extensive planning plan, landscaping, paving and lighting projects. They were responsible for reconstructing the flow of the city centre, for flexible traffic movement that makes the space pedestrian-oriented.
City of Regina. (n.d.). City Square Plaza. Retrieved June 7, 2019, from https://www.regina.ca/parks-recreation-culture/parks/city-square-plaza/
City of Regina. (2008). 2008 Annual Report(Rep. No. 90e51c43-d2b4-433c-b01b-2b97f8591eb8). Retrieved June 7, 2019, from http://open.regina.ca/dataset/annual-reports-city-of-regina/resource/90e51c43-d2b4-433c-b01b-2b97f8591eb8
City of Regina. (2009). 2009 Annual Report(Rep. No. 4dcecd1b-b877-4d29-9511-37801ee48b99). Retrieved June 7, 2019, from http://open.regina.ca/dataset/annual-reports-city-of-regina/resource/4dcecd1b-b877-4d29-9511-37801ee48b99
City of Regina. (2010). 2010 Annual Report(Rep. No. ae5db2ea-35e9-47d1-99a3-c44a4398b75c. Retrieved June 7, 2019, from
City of Regina. (2015). 2015 Annual Report(Rep. No. 52e554fb-8383-462a-8c1c-8f8e4367851e). Retrieved June 7, 2019, from
Government of Canada. (2012, June 9). Regina City Square Plaza Officially Opened. Retrieved June 7, 2019, from https://www.canada.ca/en/news/archive/2012/06/regina-city-square-plaza-officially-opened.html
Photos: Regina's City Square project, then and now. (2010, November 10). Retrieved June 7, 2019, from http://www.canada.com/news/Photos Regina City Square project then/3809710/story.html
Regina City Square | COHLMEYER. (n.d.). Retrieved June 7, 2019, from https://www.cohlarch.ca/regina-city-square
Regina City Square | MALA. (n.d.). Retrieved June 7, 2019, from https://www.mala.net/portfolio-item/regina-city-square/
Regina City Square - Victoria Park. (n.d.). Retrieved June 7, 2019, from https://www.pcl.com/Projects-that-Inspire/Pages/Regina-City-Square-Victoria-Park.aspx
The project is appreciated among the city as Regina’s premier outdoor cultural events facility. Now, the site hosts dozens of events each year including the Regina Folk Festival, Regina Jazz Festival, daily performances on the F.W. Hill Mall stage, and the Regina Farmers’ Market (the City of Regina, n.d.). The square is now home to 12 food trucks which serve many different food options during the summer. In 2015, the City of Regina reported that there had been a 30% increase in pedestrian/bicycle traffic through the downtown area since 2012 (City of Regina Annual Report, 2015).
The construction team, PCL, faced many challenges. Some of these challenges included obtaining increased budget approvals for the many design changes that occurred. The City’s project team and consultant were replaced halfway through the construction of the project, making communication difficult. Additionally, the project was continually receiving media attention, and the site was always under the watchful eye 25,000 people who work downtown, making efficiency in construction difficult (PCL, n.d.).
GENESIS OF PROJECT
The project responds to the extensive work that The Regina Downtown Improvement District (RDBID), amongst other departments in the City of Regina, did to increase programming and services to activate downtown. The City of Regina first introduced the project in 2010, as the “WOW Project” by Mayor Pat Fiacco (Canada.com, 2010).
Some of the programmed elements include:
-A necklace of outdoor living rooms around the arc of the City Square, for resting with benches, chairs and lighting
-A smaller plaza that integrates movement from the Scarth Street Mall through Victoria Park
-A network of small lights held by corten steel supports for safety and aesthetics
-Benches and custom tables, served by independent food vendors, heavily used while the Farmers’ Market is open.
-’Monster lighting’ allows winter skaters to skate safely on flooded paving
-Flexible traffic infrastructure, to close off vehicular traffic to accommodate for pedestrian usage.
-Sculptural light fixtures that illuminate the square
(Cohlmeyer Architecture, n.d.)
The Regina City Square received funding from federal, provincial, and municipal funding. The Provincial-Territorial Base Fund (a part of the Government of Canada) providing funding as part of a broader initiative to reconstruct 12th Avenue. Western Economic Diversification (WD) invested $1.7 million, the City of Regina invested $500,000, and The Saskatchewan Municipal Affairs office invested $300,000 into the project. Additionally, the Municipal Economic Enhancement Program provided $3.3 million, and the city contributed a further $5.2 million for the balance of the project.
(Government of Canada, 2012)