Broomfield Town Square: Creating a Central Gathering Space
In 2018 Civitas won a design competition to create a comprehensive master plan for a vibrant, tight and dense urban town square for the City of Broomfield, Colorado. Civitas’ central tenet was to deliver a cohesive vision of an urban public realm design, placemaking strategy, and a development package that would redefine the city’s identity and the beloved heart of the community for the next 100+ years.
Broomfield, a suburb between Boulder and Denver, is a former agrarian community that over the years evolved into a bedroom suburb characterized by rapid suburban growth characterized by auto dependent development patterns. The city has always desired a central civic place and gathering space for the community. Fortunately, the City of Broomfield owns a large, centrally located piece of land, and recognized their opportunity to transform the culture of their community.
Creating a dynamic new town center that operated as the community’s civic gathering place and heart, rather than simply a shopping district, is no simple task. One of the primary challenges with the site was its expansiveness, as it was currently an underutilized greenfield surrounded by, but not well-connected to, conventional suburban neighborhoods consisting of single family homes. In order to create a landmark with more density and intimacy, Civitas took inspiration from European piazzas, and developed a master plan that articulates urban edges, mixes vertical and horizontal elements, and layers a variety of experiences to spark energy. A retail and restaurant promenade, biergarten, a mix of affordable and market rate residences, and other neighborhood supporting uses enhance the diversity and vibrancy intended to populate the space throughout the day. The site also included an existing grocery store, now closed, that presented an opportunity to create an anchor destination in the form of a market hall that could host permanent and temporary activities. The building’s elevation overlooking the site and future plaza also created the opportunity for a central staircase element – again reminiscent of historic piazzas – and a unique vantage point as visitors enter and descend into the site. An existing library and auditorium, which currently host numerous events each year, serves as another key anchor. And a new pedestrian-oriented thoroughfare across 120th Avenue creates connection and draws people in.
Broomfield historically had two farmers’ ponds that served as community gathering spots and actively used for leisure and social gatherings. Civitas put forth a bold idea by incorporating a lake in the new town center design in order to create a nostalgic feature that harkened back to Broomfield’s past and create an identity that is unique to Broomfield that draws people in and encourages people to linger, stroll, enjoy nature, and decompress by creating experiences beyond what a conventional retail main street could do.
Supporting this design scheme were the City of Broomfield’s water rights, enabling them to move water from another location to Town Square Broomfield and create a fully integrated lake experience that would be swimmable, boatable, fishable and nurture a natural habitat for fish and small mammals.
Pairing two very dynamic environments – a lake and a piazza – and embedding them within a park creates a unique environment unlike anything currently found along Colorado’s Front Range, with the power to become an iconic “postcard worthy” destination. In addition, the site design stitches into the community by connecting a variety of surrounding uses including a community water park, sports fields, library, a new community recreation center and Town Hall to one another, creating a synergy of spaces and activities that have 365-day appeal. To succeed, the development’s buildings, spaces and objects require exceptional architecture and design elements that are not only welcoming and interesting, but also sustainable and responsible.
Extensive sustainable practices were taken to remaster this large acreage of land into a self-sustaining lake. When Civitas looked at the acreage and compared the cost of watering and maintaining a traditional sod park, which currently exists, they found that irrigation would use more water than topping off the lake on an annual basis. The evaporation rates in Colorado versus the amount of water that would be used to keep the park green ended up balancing out. Civitas also used sustainable measures to recycle the trees that live on the acreage in a number of ways. They were able to move trees to other parts of the Town Square and to the site of the Marshall Fire to support the neighborhood being rebuilt. Town Square Broomfield (TSB) has been designed with broad environmental sustainability efforts as one of the primary foundational characteristics of the TSB ethos. Pollinator species are supported by a sitewide web pollinator gardens, storm water is leveraged to both enhance the cultural experience and support critical native bird and small mammal habitat, and sterile turfgrass landscapes have been replaced with both native tall and short grass prairies. The sustainable efforts to TSB reflect our philosophy that we must strive to bring nature back into the city and center the urban energy around it, as we know it will catalyze new traditions and cultural distinctions.
Town Square Broomfield is a testament to the power of landscape and urban design to transform underutilized spaces into vibrant, thriving urban centers. With a curated mix of restaurants, neighborhood serving retail, and varied residential unit types and price points, Town Square Broomfield will serve the unmet needs and desires of the community, and create vibrancy and economic opportunity for local businesses as well as civic entities. The project has received so much public support, that dozens of residents participated in a recent City Council meeting, asking for the City’s approval of the project.
Receiving approval in late 2022, Broomfield Town Square’s groundbreaking is currently anticipated in Spring 2023.
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