Nine of the original 10 public squares dedicated in Sacramento in 1849 are still in use and Cesar Chavez Plaza is one of them. This project represents a complete modernization, retaining original park elements dating from 1872 including the co-axial walkways at the corners, a central fountain and the idea of a circular walkway promenade.
This redesign involved a program that included expanded outside seating for the park’s café, accommodation for a weekly farmer’s market, and a stage for special events and concerts. The final renovation plan laid out a new circular walkway – concentric to the central fountain and aligned to the café. This alignment allowed for the preservation of the park’s towering old heritage trees and sponsored an important new spatial order. The circular geometry also became an organizing element for the raised event stage which was placed on the walkway ring and aligned to the front entry of City Hall. A paved plaza was placed around the central fountain and the axial walkways were realigned and extended to it, creating direct circulation routes diagonally across the city block. Finally, the odd trees which had been planted haphazardly over the years were removed to accommodate an allee of new shade trees to accent the circular walk. This walk was developed to become a promenade on which the farmers market vendors were organized. The allee of trees flanking the market promenade reinforces the spatial identity of the central plaza and creates a bowl whose rim dramatically reveals the many taller downtown buildings in the vicinity of the park, strengthening its identity. A bronze sculpture of Cesar Chavez was commissioned in conjunction with the project. Its placement toward the rear of the event stage facing City Hall was also based on organizational opportunities sponsored by the circular geometry of the promenade walk.
Permanently inducted into the American Planning Association’s “Great Places in America” in the Great Public Spaces category in 2012.
Jim Pollock ASLA; lead designer + project manager, founding partner, Quadriga 2002