By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,503)
The City’s planning office is preparing the imminent release of two Requests for Qualifications (“RFQ”) for the redesign of Congress Square Park and the intersection and for a major piece of art work at the Park. Caitlin Cameron of the city’s planning office has been working with the Friends of Congress Square Park, the Portland Public Art Committee and the Project for Public Spaces to refine the elements of the RFQ’s that may be released as soon as tomorrow Tuesday, December 15, 2015.
The funds for the design concept have already been allocated by the city. The funds for the art piece concept at the Park have been designated by the Public Art Committee as well. The deadline for responding to the RFQs is January 28, 2016. In February, three candidates for the redesign of the Park and three candidates for the art piece will be selected. They will be expected to speak to the public in March about their concept. Finally, in April the winners of the Request for Proposals (“RFPs”) will be announced.
Both the Portland Public Art Committee and the Friends of Congress Square Park have committed to fund-raising for their part of the project; the PPAC for the art piece to be installed there and the FOCSP will fund raise for the redesign of the Park.
Just several years ago, this Park was written off as a dead spot in the heart of the downtown arts district. The City wanted to sell the Park, adjacent to the Westin Hotel, for its own development and use. However, residents in the area rejected this idea. They organized and won a city-wide referendum that prevented the sale of this property. That led to the award by Southwest Airlines of a substantial grant to revitalize the space and add performances. That award was an extensive process in which David LaCasse, president of the Friends of Congress Square Park and his daughter, Bree, participated.
At its last event of the year that was a Pumpkin Carving event, held on October 25, 2015, LaCasse announced that the Park held 122 events between May and October, staged 262 different artists and performer, had 60 volunteers and 18,000 visitors to the Park. Strict record keeping of the Park activities is an important part of the Southwest grant award. (Please visit that Post # 2,454, dated October 25, 2015.)
“This redesign will only enhance our program. We will be involved in every step of the redesign. We have spent a lot of time investigating what works and what doesn’t work with the present design. All of this information will be assimilated into the new design. One of the redesign criteria is to have performance space for groups ranging from 25 to 400 people,” wrote David LaCasse, president of the Friends of Congress Square Park and an engineer.