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Case Studies: Piazza del Campo & Pioneer Courthouse Square

Piazza del Campo and Pioneer Courthouse Square are considered two of the most
successful squares in the world. 1Piazza del Campo, located at the center of Siena,
Tuscany functions as the gathering area for the entire town. The piazza is paved with
different shades of brick laid out in a herribone pattern and broken up into stripes by
white marble2 Pioneer Courthouse Square, in Portland, Oregon, is fondly referred to as
the city’s “Living Room” and hosts over 9.5 million visitors a year. 3 The square is a large,
brick-paved square which features an amphitheater, canopies with seating areas, a
fountain. These squares are a vital part of
downtown for their respective cities and as
Minah such are worth studying when thinking Colour: Design & C
about the future of Kennedy Plaza

Piazza del Campo was originally


the site of a Roman forum and later
Figure 2 Piazza del Campo, Siena, Italy; figure as void
became the city’s central marketplace. In 1349, the Council of Nine commissioned the
square’s paving pattern featuring nine radials of the pattern which symbolized the
Council as Siena’s ruling power.Graf’s analytical
4 The drawings
designers usedoftheLouis Kahn’s
area’s Meeting slope
existing House to
at the biological laboratories at
gives
the Town Hall dominant position withininthe
Salk Institute square
La Jolla, and create
California, show the effect
a central of an
space as figural (Figure 3). The perime
amphitheater. Unlike Piazzaconsists
del Campo, theoflocation
of a series connectedfor Pioneereach
buildings, Courthouse Square
with their own centres and perimeters [3]
wasn’t always an open public in space. The square
the Repertory Theater,originally housed in
there is a hierarchy a hotel, which was
the components that represent organisatio
converted into a two-level parking
strategiesstructure in 1951. Between 1972 and 1974, Portland’s
in the diagram.
Downtown Plan proposed that the area be developed into a block of open space
ultimately resulting in the City purchasing the block. Will Martin’s design scheme won
an international design competition and the park was completed in 1984. 5

1“The World’s Best and Worst Parks.” Making Places. Project for Public Spaces, Sept. 2004. Web. 14 Feb.
2010. <http://www.pps.org/info/newsletter/september2004/september2004_best_worst>.
2Rubenstein, Harvey. Pedestrian Malls, Streetscapes, and Urban Spaces. Somerset: John Wiley & Sons,
1992. 4. Figure 3 Salk Meeting House; plan and analytical diagrams showing an organisational strategy

3 Pioneer Courthouse Square Annual Report


4 The addition
Rubenstein, Harvey. Pedestrian Malls, of colour
Streetscapes, andto theseSpaces.
Urban design drawings
Somerset:can both
John clarify
Wiley and serve as ‘interpre
& Sons,
1992. 4. for the concept. Colour can become a component or ‘partner’ in the form drawings, and
the capacity to enhance the concept. Three roles that colour can play in the design process
5 “Pioneer Courthouse Square.” Great Public Spaces. Project for Public Spaces. Web. 14 Feb. 2010.
defined here:
<http://www.pps.org/great_public_spaces/one?public_place_id=19>.
1. Colour dynamics
2. Colour tectonics, and
3. Colour imagery.
Transportation played little part
in the development of Piazza del
Campo and currently the closest bus
stop to the piazza is over two blocks
away. Pioneer Courthouse Square’s
development, on the other hand, was
largely influenced by public transit.
The TriMet transportation systems
work seemlessly into the square, as the
Metropolitan Area Express (MAX)
light rail system was constructed at the
same time as the Square itself. 6
Furthermore, Pioneer Courthouse
Square’s role as the hub for TriMet, which includes the MAX light rail system as well as
buses and a streetcar system, makes it “the nerve center of downtown Portland,” 7
bringing residents and visitors alike to the Square.
Both the Piazza del Campo and Pioneer Courthouse Square are surrounded by
shops, restaurants, and cafes which bring residents and tourists alike into the area and
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encourage greater use of the squares. Those surrounding Piazza del Campo have large
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amphitheater, a Starbucks, assorted stands and a theater on its grounds. Surrounding


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6“Pioneer Courthouse Square.” Great Public Spaces. Project for Public Spaces. Web. 14 Feb. 2010.
<http://www.pps.org/great_public_spaces/one?public_place_id=19>.
7“Pioneer Courthouse Square.” Great Public Spaces. Project for Public Spaces. Web. 14 Feb. 2010.
<http://www.pps.org/great_public_spaces/one?public_place_id=19>.
8The Palio, which takes place twice a year, is the city’s largest celebration during which the piazza hosts
parades, banquets and a horse race and tens of thousands of people crowd into the piazza.
surrounding uses of the square, its popularity is enhanced by the 300 events it hosts
every year ranging from performances to festivals.
While it is difficult to find much information about the management of Piazza del
Campo, Pioneer Courthouse Square has an organized management system. The square
has a Board of Trustees consisting of 34 elected members. 11 members are
representatives of the community, 11 are representatives of the region at-large, and 11
are representatives of downtown businesses. The City Commissioner, who is in charge of
Portland Parks and Recreation, also serves on the Board. 9
Piazza del Campo and Pioneer Square Courthouse both have features that
contribute to their success that could be recreated in Kennedy Plaza. There are a total of
eleven roads that lead into Piazza del Campo, so even when simply wandering through
the city it is easy to happen upon. Having a number of safe and pedestrian friendly
streets leading to Kennedy Plaza would lead to greater foot traffic to the area, and once
you’re there, there are many reasons to stay, including all of the restaurants and shops.
The addition of more restaurants and cafes to the Kennedy Plaza area would also
encourage visitors to remain in the area for longer and transform Kennedy Plaza into a
destination rather than a transportation hub.
Pioneer Square Courthouse has a block-large paved area in which pedestrians can
roam freely and without worry, whereas Kennedy Plaza has little pedestrian only space
other than the park. If the busses were moved, as is proposed in the Placemaking
Workshop Summary, pedestrians could have greater opportunity to roam safely around
the area and have a more pleasurable experience in Kennedy Plaza. Additionally, all of
the events that take place in Pioneer Courthouse Square are great examples of how
events can bring many visitors to a park or square. If the events that are currently taking
place continue to gain popularity and are well advertised, Kennedy Plaza will be able to
attract a variety of visitors, not only those using Kennedy Plaza for transportation
purposes.

9“Management.” Pioneer Courthouse Square: About Us. Pioneer Courthouse Square. Web. <http://
www.pioneercourthousesquare.org/management.htm>.