Charleston’s newest greenspace.

Posted: May 17, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

With the Clay Center in the background, a crowd gathered on Sunday for the dedication of the Mary Price Ratrie Greenspace.

May 16, 2010, Charleston, WV

Sunday was a big day for the City of Charleston.  An important new greenspace was dedicated and officially opened to the public.  Bands were playing, dignitaries of all sort enjoyed the afternoon sun, and kids climbed boulders and splashed in the water.  It was a picture-perfect day. 

The Mary Price Ratrie Greenspace is located a few blocks from the core of downtown Charleston and it fits in well with the high design of its neighbor across the street, the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences.  The space was designed by the nationally-known firm, Andropogon Associates, of Philadelphia.  Andropogon is a leader in sustainable design and was designing “green” long before it was hip to be green.  As I would have expected, their design is heavy on the use of indigenous materials and bears the unmistakable mark of West Virginia.  Terraces suggest the mountains of our state and if there were any doubt, the project comes complete with boulders, springs, a pond, and even a stream.  

Everything a kid could want: boulders, rocks and water.

Attention to detail is a credit to the designer and contractor.

The requisite hardscape elements are also there – concrete pavement with brick accents complement similar pavements used at the Clay Center.  Stone retaining walls provide virtually unlimited seating and interesting views.  And there is plenty of elbow room.  No reason that the park couldn’t be used by lots of people without sacrificing personal space. 

Even a greenspace needs some hardscape.

One of the goals of the project was to bring some green to a section of town that was a sea of asphalt and concrete.  This place will definitely provide that and will serve as a beautiful gateway just off one of the busy interstate exit ramps into the city.  

How does it function as a public space?  If everyday could be like Sunday, it would be a tremendous success.  I can easily imagine symphony crowds mingling in the space before and after a concert.  And without at doubt there is an educational component that will attract school kids.  But I suspect that this greenspace is less about being a public gathering place and more about being a visual oasis and a symbol of Charleston’s commitment to developing good public spaces.

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