Looking back at what planners, designers, and architects hoped our future would look like. Hits, misses, and wishful thinking.
The Spirit is Willing, but the Market is Weak.
Here’s an architect’s vision of the new “Marketplace” from 1978’s (It’s) Time (for Springfield). The idea was to turn an agglomeration of several Main Street and Market Street buildings as well as Market Street itself into an interconnected pedestrian mall. It was done, and the design was superb. Unfortunately the demand for downtown retail never materialized, the surface parking lot at a pivotal corner was never developed into an anchor for the project, and it has degenerated into a mostly empty, if not unattractive, urban byway.
The design is such that a change in public habits along with a corresponding change in building programming could quickly turn this area into a spectacular asset to people in the downtown. On the other hand, in an unusual twist, the “atrium” as actually built turned out much better than this architects rendering!
On p. 41 of the 1989 master plan for downtown Springfield, “Visions”, we have an excellent idea for the redesign of Pynchon Plaza which would allow it to more effectively accomplish the purpose for which it was built: Making the walk from the Quadrangle to Court Square much shorter.
Of course, even then it would have been much easier and cheaper to simply continue the path of the lower flights of stairs over the wall of water.(see What’s right? What’s wrong? Pynchon Plaza)
On the other hand, though the idea for a memorial to Springfield native Dr Seuss (Theodore Geisel) had been discussed as early as 1986, in this 1989 plan we see an artist conception of just how it might look. Notice that on the “Spanish Steps” there are statues of Dr Seuss characters like Horton and The Cat in the Hat.
Pynchon Plaza, as it remains to this day: