Sunday, January 20, 2013

No Little Plan

Click to enlarge

Columbia founder Jim Rouse often cited Chicago architect Daniel Burnham for one of his favorite quotes: “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized.”

This quotation was called to mind as CA Board member Tom Coale and Michael McCall from Strategic Leisure laid out the new vision for Symphony Woods last week in Phil Nelsons office. After putting their fountain in the park plan on hold last August, the Columbia Association has come back with a bold vision for Columbia’s central park. This is much more than a café in the woods or an interactive fountain, it is a strategic plan that leverages an assortment of existing community assets to benefit the whole.

The key elements of the plan are the CA headquarters building and Toby’s Theater.  CA, which has been engaged in a headquarters search for the past year, would build a new 30,000 square foot office building on top of a subterranean theater for Toby’s . Additionally, the Columbia Centerfor Theatrical Arts will finally have a permanent home for its children’s theater and the community will get a new function space to replace the now shuttered Spear Center.

To make it all work, a new trust with an independent board will be established to oversee Symphony Woods. That is probably the biggest idea of all. The trust will operate outside of the sometimes dysfunctional politics of the CA board and will be able to apply for grants from outside organizations for programs and installations.

The plan, which is being called the Inner Arbor, is long range and will take years before being fully realized but certain elements such as the CA headquarters and Toby’s theater will likely come sooner rather than later. CA is facing a lease expiration on its current space and right now Toby’s is in a position to leverage its present building and land as part of the overall Columbia downtown redevelopment plan.

Nicely done CA. This plan stirred my blood.
blog comments powered by Disqus