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An early conceptual drawing of the plaza helped team
Focal Point Community charrettes guide AIA Lubbock’s design for North University Avenue Mercado b y B r i a n H . G r i gg s , A s s o c . A I A
Among AIA Lubbock’s programs planned under the celebratory banner of AIA150 is a community design charrette to plan an indoor/outdoor public plaza in north Lubbock, an area in need of an economic boost to create business growth, cultural identity, and pride of place. The area is home to a sizeable percentage of Lubbock’s growing Hispanic population, yet there is no urban center that reflects the demographic shift that has been underway for several years. Another factor that lends immediacy to the project is the construction of the Marsha Sharp freeway (US Highway 82) which is expected to isolate north Lubbock from more robust sectors of the city. Tentatively known as the North University Avenue Mercado, the project is blazing forward with amazing success.
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Last November the Lubbock City Council provided substantial momentum to the project by earmarking $750,000 for right-of-way improvements and outdoor public space in the Mercado. Two charrettes are planned and will be staffed by dozens of AIA Lubbock volunteers to work with members of the neighborhoods on envisioning a public facility that responds to the residents’ expectations. In April, after the design team has incorporated the information from the charrettes into a final concept, a third session will allow residents an additional opportunity to comment on the design. Then, in early May, a final document will be presented to the City of Lubbock as the chapter’s gift in commemoration of AIA 150 during National Architecture Week. Members of AIA Lubbock have teamed with four students from the Texas Tech University College of Architecture to design the Mercado. The students are Martin Aguirre, Jennifer Harrington, Chris Plyler and Adam Ruelas. The design team is receiving guidance not only from the charrettes themselves, but also from a terrific steering committee of allied design professionals, civic leaders, and community representatives. In addition, the team has studied four successful projects in other cities. As outlined in a preliminary report, the design team recognizes the need for representation of Hispanic culture throughout the design and the hiring of contractors and subcontractors from within the north Lubbock community. Recommendations for specifically programmed architectural components include small stages, bandshells, and performance areas for public and private celebrations; outdoor plazas with seating, small kiosk retail, and public artwork or water features; garden spaces with adjacent shade structures; and bike trails that link the Mercado with the Texas Tech campus. The North University Avenue Mercado promises to be a catalyst for positive growth in a part of Lubbock that has suffered from a recent lack of development. The volunteers on this project hope to develop a design that will engender vibrancy, growth, and a sense of pride in north Lubbock that will last for years to come. The writer is AIA Lubbock’s designated AIA 150 “champion.”
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illustration by Brian H. Griggs, Assoc. AIA
members generate ideas for the future public space.