When development of a new downtown Norfolk conference center fell on hard times, Work Program Architects led an initiative to put the temporarily abandoned corner lot to good use. PLOT I, a volunteer-built temporary public park and a community gathering space in the heart of Norfolk’s financial district, was constructed of materials reclaimed from the existing site and other city sources. The PLOT brought new life to the site, formerly enclosed in construction fencing, by creating a temporary commons complete with an entertainment amphitheater, space for vendors and mobile eateries, and public art. The temporary commons served to celebrate Norfolk’s past, present and ultimate future by architecturally paying homage to the structures that once occupied this historic site, making a dormant piece of the city’s landscape viable again and ushering in the arrival of a new hotel and convention center, The Main. The Downtown Norfolk Council appointed WPA to lead the charrette process with the community and to provide all visualization that eventually led to the donation of more than $100,000 of materials and thousands of hours of volunteer construction labor.
With the start of construction on the Main hotel, the PLOT moved to a location in the NEON District, where it served as the anchor public space. The PLOT currently is in transition again, moving to a more permanent space between the Chrysler Museum and the NEON District. WPA has led multiple charrettes to determine the best use and character of the new public space.