Bramhall Square

Bramhall Square Reinvented! An Ideas Competition…



Bramhall Square is a small, oddly shaped, underutilized, and steeply sloping urban space located in an area of the city in transition as Maine’s largest medical institution moves forward with an unparalleled program of growth and expansion. Attention from stakeholders is being refocused on the space and its potential to enliven the neighborhood and pedestrian realm.

The organizers of this Ideas Competition – Peloton Labs and Parkside Neighborhood Association, with advisory assistance by the Maine Section of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Portland Society for Architecture (the Competition Organizers) – seek to further dialogue previously begun and create a shared vision for what the space could become.

Entrants were invited to submit creative, innovative, and buildable concepts. The winning submission, as selected by stakeholder representatives with community input, will be identified as a contributory basis of design for possible future funding and procurement efforts.

A non-cash prize consisting of local goods and services (to be determined) will be awarded the winner.


Bramhall Square is a triangular remnant approximately 3,400 sf in size created by the confluence of Congress Street, and Deering Avenue, and the vestige of a former street alignment that gives it its form. Deering Avenue, formerly Grove Street, created a five-point intersection with adjoining streets which, with the advent of the horseless carriage, was reconfigured to what we see today, leaving the building line of Grove Street as a remembrance of times past. Perched on the western height of the Congress Street spine, the site has commanding views of the city and New Hampshire mountains (on a clear day!) to the northwest. The site also occupies a ‘gateway’ position at the western end of the city’s Congress Street Historical District. Several local businesses, one currently vacant, front directly on the space, and the intersection sees large volumes of traffic, and is the primary route for EMS vehicles heading to nearby Maine Medical Center (MMC). MMC’s current $500M expansion plans are slated to reorient the main hospital entrance onto Congress Street slightly farther west of the site and the effect on this somewhat neglected segment of the street is anticipated to be significant. A neighborhood charrette in 2015 focusing on the square was held with area stakeholders and early concept planning generated. Interest waned until fall of 2017 when the current effort began.

 Design requirements:

Entrants are encouraged to think big and be creative. Economy in construction is strongly encouraged and, though there is no defined budget to limit entrant’s visions, the ultimate goal is to create a wonderful transformation that is affordable and buildable. For practical purposes, the project limit is the existing curb line and building frontages.

Stakeholder concerns as defined in the 2015 sessions should be acknowledged. An abbreviated list highlights the following:


Judging Criteria:

Entries will be reviewed by stakeholder representatives:

Emma Holder (Parkside Neighborhood Association)
Liz Trice (PelotonLabs)
Alvah Davis (Western Promenade Neighborhood Association)
Spencer Thibodeau City of Portland District 2 Councilor
Dennis Morelli (Maine Medical Center)

The judges will have advisory assistance from non-competing designers and representatives from the city. The following will be considered:

  1. Creativity and innovation: Does the design embrace the site and context and make it more than the sum of its parts?
  2. Urban value: Does the design strengthen the neighborhood experience and pedestrian realm?
  3. Technical feasibility and maintainability: Being city property and publicly accessed, the design must not only be buildable, but meet city Technical Standards and not create undo maintenance burdens.
  4. Economy: Acknowledging that this is an Ideas Competition, the goal is to eventually construct improvements. Though no budget has been defined, consideration should be given to “practical” economics.


Schedule (both meetings from 6-8 pm at Peloton Labs)


Use of Materials, Rights, and Deliverables:

It is the intent of the Competition Organizers that the designs submitted and those of the winner will serve as a basis for next steps in securing funding and generation of refined design documentation and eventual construction of improvements. They recognize that the site lies within public city domain and, as such, any improvements therein must be made in accordance with all applicable City of Portland rules, regulations, and guidelines for funding and procurement. This includes retention and contract with consultants through a defined proposal process. No guarantee is made or implied by the Competition Organizers and affiliated advisors and assistants, nor the City of Portland, that the competition winner will necessarily be the consultant for the project when or if it becomes a reality. All materials submitted will, for all practical purposes, become the “property” of the competition organizers to be used at their discretion for publication, posting, etc., with appropriate citation. By submitting, entrants guarantee and assume sole responsibility for appropriate references, citations, and permissions relative to any materials not of their own creation. The Competition Organizers reserve the right to reject any submission at their sole discretion.

The Presentations:

1.       Zack Barowitz  posterslides  2.       Debora Viana da Silva poster / slides / video
 3.       Michelle Grover - MGLD poster /  slides / video  4.       Eric Whittman - AIA poster / slides / video
 5.       Chris Miller - New Paradigm Design Workshop poster / slides / video  6.       Steve Thompson, Terrence J. DeWan & Associates poster /  slides / video
 7.       Trevor E Watson poster /  slides / video   8.       Qianyu (QE) Li poster /  slides / video
 9.       WBRC poster /  slides / video  10.   Patrick Costin - Canal 5 Studio poster /  slides / video
 11.   Dan Danvers poster /  slides / video  12.   John Gutwin - Pepperchrome poster slides / video
 13.   Matthew Jones poster / video  


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Supporting materials:

Bild Proposal from 2012, Sample Sketch, CAD Files (thanks toT.Y. Lin International), .pdf of CAD FileSketchUp File (Thanks to Bild), Slideshow from Design Charrette 2015, notes from 2015 Charette, Flipchart from 2017 Kick-off

Send questions to: [email protected]