Barr Street cultural streetscapes nearing completion


My apologies for the photos, but I wanted to have something to show the progress of the project. Press release from the City:

Barr Street Improvements Nearly Complete
Special features create distinctive streetscape experience in downtown’s Cultural District

The Barr Street streetscape improvement project, running from Main to Wayne streets, is nearly complete with the final components currently being added.

Two special features, the Reflection Totem and Ribbon of Community, are being installed. A third feature, engraved brick pavers known as Talking Sidewalks, was put in places this summer when the sidewalks were replaced.

“Revitalizing downtown isn’t just about constructing new buildings or filling storefronts. It’s about creating a sense of place where individuals and families want to spend time, whether it is a world-class downtown ballpark or special artistic elements that show civic pride to our residents and visitors,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “At this location, the entire design ties together the Arts United Center and expanding Fort Wayne Museum of Art with the History Center and Barr Street Market.”

Barr Street’s special features were an outgrowth of public comment and recommendations for downtown aesthetics in the Context and Connections Report. The report serves as a guide for downtown development features. The Barr Street streetscape is also outlined in the Downtown Blueprint plan for redeveloping downtown Fort Wayne.

“Aesthetics consistently rank as one of our residents’ top areas of interest for community planning in Fort Wayne,” said John Urbahns, director of community development. “The Barr Street streetscape demonstrates the public suggestions we received put into practice.”

At the southeast corner of Barr and Main, crews are currently setting the Reflection Totem, a series of stacked mirrors with a circular stone base for seating and a windvane on top.

The mirrors serve as a literal and figurative reflection on the community while the windvane shifts direction with the weather as a metaphor for the winds of change. At night, LED lights will illuminate the structure with special color themes for seasons and holidays.

The Ribbon of Community, scheduled to go in just after the first of the year, is a laser-cut 3/4-inch steel plate of people’s silhouettes depicting community life in Fort Wayne with athletic, artistic and economic references. It will go along the sidewalk setback at the Renaissance Square building where there is a drop-off to Barr Street, minimizing safety hazards.

Throughout the display, a stainless steel handrail — a ribbon — runs through the painted silhouettes that showcase Fort Wayne’s innovative and creative qualities. Permanent labels will identify the activities.

Like other recent downtown streetscape projects, Barr Street includes brick pavers along the edge of the sidewalk but with an additional feature, Talking Sidewalks. They do not physically speak but rather are engraved with quotations from people in Fort Wayne or about Fort Wayne. They were installed when the sidewalks were reconstructed.

The City is working with the staff at the History Center to create informational brochures for the Ribbon of Community silhouettes and the Talking Sidewalk quotes to provide specific backgrounds to some of downtown’s newest additions.

The pedestrian-friendly project began this spring with the replacement of sidewalks and curbs as well as historically streetlamp-styled streetlights and 15 new flowering shade trees plus additional on-street parking. It was funded through a 2004 Indiana Department of Transportation Transportation Enhancement grant for $496,000 designated for pedestrian-oriented projects and local matching funds from economic development (CEDIT) funds budgeted in 2004.

The features’ design and construction was performed locally. The three pieces were a joint design between City of Fort Wayne staff and Fort Wayne-based Design Collaborative. Gensic Creative Metals of Fort Wayne fabricated the Ribbon of Community for $55,190. Harlan’s B.A. Romines constructed the Reflection Totem for $73,982. East State Monument Co. of Fort Wayne engraved and installed the Talking Sidewalks for $2,820.

INDOT contracted with Primco Inc. as the construction contractor for all the sidewalk, lighting, tree and brickwork for $586,000 as part of the grant agreement with the City.

Previous AFW Posts on this Barr Street project

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