Madison, Wisconsin The transformation of Monroe Street plaza from an underutilized, marginal space into an engaging and timeless pocket park marked a significant change in the treatment of this pivotal urban space sited at the literal intersection of Campus and the vibrant Monroe Street neighborhood. Located at an odd, triangular confluence of three major roadways with Camp Randall Stadium and Wisconsin Field House on one edge, the project was challenged to accommodate large crowds and event-driven pedestrian traffic on the order of hundreds to thousands of people migrating to these destinations. At the same time, with commercial businesses forming the other edge and residential properties in the vicinity, the project was challenged to balance designing for large crowds with the desire to maintain a sense of intimacy and scale for every-day use sand functions. The Southwest Commuter Bike Path bisected the triangular site, imposing an additional layer of complexity and design challenge associated with bicycle-vehicle and bicycle-pedestrian conflict zones.
Saiki Design worked through a series of design iterations during the public engagement process, integrating input from City staff and other stakeholders at each milestone. Early design options considered a wide range of functions, aesthetics, maintenance, education and messages and explored public art themes unique to the space. The final plaza design provided diverse and flexible seating, a public drinking fountain, durable pavement materials with bronze medallions embedded to demarcate vending spaces for game days, a bronze badger sculpture, a flexible lawn, bike parking, a central bioretention basin for on-site stormwater management, and a graceful connection for the popular bike path bisecting the site. An internally illuminated, curved mosaic wall features intricate mosaic tile panels by public artist Marcia Yapp.