Bramhall Square

Bramhall Square is a small park just outside PelotonLabs. The square is a triangle, approximately 3,400 sf in size, created by the confluence of Congress Street, Bramhall Street, and Deering Avenue, the former "Grove Street", which is retained only as the current line of buildings including what is now Quiero Cafe. Perched on the western height of the Congress Street spine, the site has commanding views of the city and New Hampshire mountains 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 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. 

Timeline
2011 PelotonLabs developer Peter Bass commissions concept designs from bild ARCHITECTURE.
2015 PelotonLabs co-founder Liz Trice takes over ownership of PelotonLabs and hosts a Neighborhood Charette s
2016 PelotonLabs puts up solar holiday lights in the trees.
2017 The City of Portland installs an electrical box, and PelotonLabs puts up electric lights donated by Parkside Neighborhood Association.
2017 PelotonLabs, Parkside Neighborhood Association, Maine Section of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, and Portland Society for Architecture host the Bramhall Square Ideas Competition; 13 firms apply, and over 180 people participate in events and voting.
2018 Maine Medical Center offers to pay for Pandora LaCasse to design and install holiday lights for the park.
2019 Maine Medical Center offers $100k to rebuild the square matched by $150k in city funds. An RFP is developed to hire a designer in summer 2019.

Results of the Bramhall Square Ideas Competition

It was an incredibly difficult task to select just a few designs – as each of the 13 submissions submission inspired the judges to think creatively about how to use the tiny, complicated parcel adjacent to multiple roadways on an extremely steep slope – and will help in catalyzing further stewardship and investment of the site!

Attention was given to use of materials, relationship to adjacent parcels, buildings and roadways, potential for gathering at multiple scales, and buildability. One design stood out with a very close second, and two runner-ups were selected for the fun, whimsy and desired atmosphere of the space.

The WBRC team won top honors with their proposal. The jury concluded this proposal handled the complexity of the site extremely well – from safe buffering of the heavily trafficked intersection, storm-water run-off and use of vegetation, and creative platforms for multi-generational users at various times of day and play. “The WBRC Architects and Engineers team was thrilled to participate in the design competition for the geographically unique Bramhall Square. The Portland design community is an active, engaged group and we truly enjoyed partaking in a competition alongside people with a shared vision of the city’s future. As stewards of the city’s resources, we are excited to see Bramhall Square become a place of refuge in the growing urban neighborhood. Especially as Maine Medical Center expands, we look forward to helping transform Bramhall Square into a safe and engaging park that reflects our unique community.” - Jocelyn Boothe, WBRC

A very close second was for ‘*A New Angle on Bramhall Square’* from the team at Terrence J. DeWan and Associates. The jury felt the integration of vegetation, amphitheater seating, the bus shelter, and a platform for public art combined a myriad of programming at a very accessible scale. “For TJD&A, this competition was a rare opportunity to intensely collaborate on creative ways to revive another great public space in the city we love and enjoy. We started with an office wide design charrette, and then the final concept and presentation was produced by Steve Thompson, Jessica Kimball, and Nick McMenamin.” – Amy Beth Segal, TJD&A

Both the public and the judges loved the bears! Chris Miller’s *Bramhall Square Picnic* creating a whimsical proposal that encourages an iconic memorable quality. This earned Miller an ‘honorable mention. “Being a part of this competition was a rousing foray into Portland's design community. The turnout and quality of proposals both speak to the kind of magic that's brewing here. On the other hand, it was a great excuse to ponder the wonderful strangeness of that little square. While the site conditions pose serious technical challenges, they're mostly in consequence of some otherwise delightful idiosyncrasies. Bramhall Square could be a much better amenity for it's neighbors, and it also has the bones of someplace intensely singular. It deserves to be a gathering place, an attraction and a landmark. I really enjoyed pursuing some vision of that potential, especially in such good company.” - Chris Miller

And – it was unanimous that ‘*Bramhall Park’* by John Gutman of Pepperchrome exquisitely rendered the atmosphere and sense of place the judges were seeking. “The ideas competition was run beautifully. Thank you for your part. While I am disappointed to have not won the prize, I found the experience thoroughly invigorating and rewarding. I still hope to see some expression of my ideas seep into the final park along with other excellent ideas we got to see and admire.” - John Gutman

We’d also like to acknowledge the submissions of both Zack Barowitz, Dan Danvers, and Trevor Watson who each proposed a 'taking back' the street concept. The judges appreciated out-of-the-box thinking for reclaiming public space and enhancing the square’s future potential. Thank you to all the designers for their proposals: Zack Barowitz, Debora Viana da Silva, Michelle Grover - MGLD, Eric Whittman - AIA, Chris Miller - New Paradigm Design Workshop, Steve Thompson, Terrence J. DeWan & Associates, Trevor E Watson, Qianyu (QE) Li, WBRC, Patrick Costin - Canal 5 Studio, Dan Danvers, John Gutwin - Pepperchrome, Matthew Jones Thank you to PelotonLabs, Tandem Coffee, Vinland Restaurant, Hot Suppa, The Francis, Local 188/Salvage/Sunny's, and Opus Consulting, and Maine Medical Center for donating food and prizes. Thank you to the Parkside Neighborhood Association, PelotonLabs, Portland Society for Architecture and the Maine Section of the American Society of Landscape Architects for organizing the competition. Thank you also, to our judges, advisors and the City of Portland.

Competition Presentations: 

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


 Join the Friends of Bramhall Square Facebook Group

Press:

http://thewestendnews.com/designing-a-vision-for-bramhall-square/

http://www.pressherald.com/2015/09/19/small-gritty-space-envisioned-as-oa/

http://thewestendnews.com/interest-in-improving-bramhall-square-design-charette-attracts-30-neighbors/

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Supporting materials:

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

Send questions to: [email protected]