Bramhall Square

Bramhall Square Reinvented! An Ideas Competition…

Bring your ideas on Wednesday, Feb 14, 2018 1:30-2:30pm at PelotonLabs! 

What would you like to see this year in Bramhall Square?  A farmer's market? Music? Raised beds? Better lights? Massive reconstruction? Conversations about parks and policy?  
Bring your ideas on the 14th. We'll have Dela Taylor Murphy from Friends of Congress Square there to help us learn from their experience about what's easy, what's hard, and what's rewarding.  

If you're interested, but can't come to this gathering, (or can't come mid-day in general) please send your thoughts and what times would be better for you.  


The Bramhall Square Ideas Competition has a winner
(with a second place and two runners-ups)!

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 BarowitzDan 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.

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.

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  

 Join the Friends of Bramhall Square Facebook Group

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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]