When an anticipated conference center project fell victim to an economic downturn, a key corner in downtown Norfolk sat empty and derelict behind construction fence. WPA teamed with the Downtown Norfolk Council, taking a leading role in the design and promotion process for a temporary park, called “The Plot.” This community gathering space was constructed of materials reclaimed from the existing site and other city sources, as well as donations that included everything from Maersk line shipping containers, cobblestones, plants and small trees. The Plot opened in June 2012, providing a commons complete with an entertainment amphitheater, space for vendors and mobile eateries, and public art. Architecturally the space served to celebrate Norfolk’s past, present and ultimate future by paying homage to the structures that once occupied this historic site while making a dormant piece of the city’s landscape viable again. The vertical shipping containers, which rose above ground-plan activity, became a monumental anchor for the site and a symbol of future high-rise development. The grid layout allowed for modular expansion for a second phase and created new pedestrian traffic access.
Fast forward to May 2014. Announcement of a new Hilton hotel and convention center on the downtown site caused elements of the Plot to relocate to the City’s emerging NEON Arts District. The Plot again plays a role in development of a new chapter in the City’s history. Located on the former Zed’s auction property, the PLOT II anchors the public space of the NEON District. It will remain until the property is sold and developed.
The Downtown Norfolk Council appointed WPA to lead the PLOT 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 labor through design and construction phases.