Project Name | Fillmore Plaza
Project Location | Denver, Colorado
Construction Budget | $3.25 million
Project Summary | Since closing to traffic and converting to a pedestrian street in 1987, Fillmore Plaza
had steadily declined into an underused series of open spaces flanked by underperforming retail stores.
In addition, with landscape plantings removed and the two fountains rarely operating, the Plaza was no
longer a desirable public space within the Cherry Creek North Shopping District. Through extensive
visioning and public outreach by the design team, the new Fillmore Plaza has become a hybrid street with
two-way vehicular traffic and on-street parking that can be closed off to traffic during planned events
throughout the year. Monolithic brick paving, a custom center canopy with adjacent show power electrical
capabilities, permanent stone planters, elegant benches, internally illuminated light ‘blades,’ custom
wayfinding signage and accent lighting set the Fillmore Plaza design apart, allowing it to be the gateway
and premier event space in Cherry Creek North.
Purpose of Project | Closed to vehicular traffic and uninspiring to pedestrians, Fillmore Plaza was a
declining and underutilized space. Through the culmination of an effort that began in 2006 with an
election by the District’s constituents to approve $18.5 million in bonds for the specific purpose of
upgrading the streetscapes in the 16-block district, Fillmore Plaza was a major focus of the Cherry Creek
North Shopping District’s first major streetscape improvement in more than 20 years. The Plaza, now a
two-way vehicular and pedestrian space, and the premier event space in the District, was constructed on
schedule and under budget in only six months, just in time for the 2011 Cherry Creek Arts Festival held
during the July 4th holiday.
Role of Landscape Architect vs. Role of Other Participants | The Landscape Architect was the lead
consultant of an interdisciplinary team that included Environmental Graphics; Transportation Analysis and
Planning; Civil Engineering; Lighting Design; Electrical Engineering; Structural Engineering; and Irrigation
Design. The landscape architect developed a project vision and guiding principles with the District’s
Program Manager, iterated concept plan alternatives with extensive neighborhood input, designed and
documented the site design elements, and reviewed the quality of the construction.
Major Event Space in the District | Most successful and enduring districts have a focal space — in
America this is usually a busy Main Street; in Europe, a plaza. Fillmore Plaza, as a hybrid street, serves
both roles. It is the crown jewel of the Cherry Creek North Shopping District and the focal point of the five
enhanced event streets in the District. Fillmore Plaza is a significant entry point for cars and pedestrians,
and also a destination for shopping and events in its own right. As the main venue in the District for a
wide range of events throughout the calendar year, Fillmore Plaza required special design focus,
additional facilities and a larger budget than the other enhanced event streets in the District.
One major community concern was the ability to host large and small events on the Plaza without vertical
encumbrances such as curbs and traffic-related devices. The design team, in coordination with the
District’s event planning group, designed a space to accommodate their needs and provide flexibility for
different planned events. The landscape architect ran monthly meetings with the community stakeholders,
the District and the city council representative to gain consensus on the design. While the north half of the
street closest to the core of the District was where most of the events had been staged in the old plaza,
the new street has two distinct aesthetics and functions, capable of hosting a wide range of events
throughout the year. The north half is curbless (an unprecedented design, found on no other public street
in the City), has no on-street parking and provides a relatively level area for functions. The south half, with
a four-inch rolled curb section and 10 on-street metered parking spaces, has been designed for larger
tents and event staging.
The unique curbless design on the north side of the street addresses public safety and stormwater
concerns. A linear trench drain defines the ‘flowline’ of the street with retractable stainless steel bollards
surrounded by detectable warning devices. Stormwater is detained and filtered in an underground vault at
the north end of the Plaza to satisfy the water quality requirements. Movable planters with low-water-using
ornamental grasses were included between the bollards to provide another layer of pedestrian
protection as well as to demarcate the drive lanes. During an event, the planters can be rolled to the
Plaza’s edge and the bollards can be lowered into underground sleeves. For events with tents,
permanent in-grade anchor points on a 15-foot grid allow for easier set up, negating the need for
weighted barrels that clutter the event space. These seemingly small considerations greatly reduce the
operational cost and time necessary for each event’s setup and breakdown, enabling the street to remain
open longer for the retailers.
Increased Economic Vitality | As one of the best spaces to showcase the District’s “brand,” Fillmore
Plaza plays a central role in capturing the attention of vehicles and shoppers. It is positioned immediately
adjacent to the Cherry Creek Shopping Center in alignment with an existing pedestrian crossing. A right-in,
right-out vehicular turn at the First Avenue intersection introduces cars and increases retail visibility
with on-street parking. The physical improvements to Fillmore Plaza stimulate pedestrian visitation.
Existing boutique clothiers and lunchtime restaurants have been joined by additional restaurants and
retail that have begun to occupy the new and renovated adjacent buildings on the ground-floor level. The
building owners cite the new design as a major attractor for retail tenants. Residential condominiums and
offices above the first floor provide eyes into the Plaza. The energy of good retail on Fillmore Plaza will
help to sustain businesses District-wide.
High-Quality Renovation | To return Fillmore Plaza as a signature place, a destination and a gateway
for the entire District, the same quality of materials and design were applied to the hybrid design as were
included in the other District improvements. Just as in the larger District-wide enhancements, Fillmore
Plaza was thought of as one large Art and Garden Place that attracts users and creates a new identity for
the District. The design was comprised of:
· 20 custom light ‘blades’ that provide a daytime presence and identity as well as a nighttime
ambience and safety lighting. The internally lit ‘blade’ LED lights can be programmed to range
from a warm white color for an everyday scene to up to 127 different colors for special events and
seasonal holidays. The lights brand the street providing a memorable experience.
· Increased seating from 100 to 450 linear feet, four additional bike racks, two additional trash
receptacles as well as two recycling receptacles. Additionally, the Colorado Buff Sandstone walls
were designed with seating in mind and add about 250 linear feet of informal seating throughout
· A center canopy with a suspended ring that holds the District’s name is the focal point for events,
distinguishing Fillmore Plaza daily and drawing users into the Plaza to activate the space
· Intensified plantings of seasonal perennials and shrubs below 24 medium-caliper deciduous
shade trees provide shade and human comfort. In addition to the planting-mix soil, the design
included CU Structural Soil that will provide support for the sand set brick pavers and establish
the necessary air and volume for adequate tree root growth.
· Monolithic clay brick paving in earth toned hues spans from building to building to create a rich
floor on which activities can occur. The pedestrian areas are sand set over compacted sub-base
while the vehicular areas have a bituminous setting bed to satisfy City and County of Denver
street standards. The design factored in the paver module size to provide full pavers as much as
possible, therefore increasing the longevity of the flexible paving system.
Since the new Fillmore Plaza has opened, the Cherry Creek North Shopping District has seen an
increase in vitality, pedestrian presence and retail activity. Fillmore Plaza truly has become the premier
event space in the District.
Fillmore Plaza 01 | Unique identity: The center canopy creates intrigue and identity within the Plaza.
Fillmore Plaza 02 | Major gateway: Located along First Avenue, Fillmore Plaza is the direct link to the
Cherry Creek Shopping Center and serves as one of the major gateways into the Cherry Creek North
Fillmore Plaza 03 | Plan for revitalization: Bound by high-end retail, residential and office space, the Plaza
provides a balance of on-street parking and flexible event space.
Fillmore Plaza 04 | A deserted open space: The previous landscape plantings and other major elements
were removed from the pedestrian-only Plaza and further diminished the ability to attract both pedestrians
Fillmore Plaza 05 | A new vision: The proposed design would allow for restricted vehicular access during
the numerous events hosted by the Business Improvement District.
Fillmore Plaza 06 | A new doorway: The completed design without any vehicular restrictions creates the
gateway into the heart of the retail district.
Fillmore Plaza 07 | Special coverage: The center canopy provides sun and rain protection for visitors and
Fillmore Plaza 08 | Transformed: During event mode, the moveable planters are rolled away and the
retractable bollards are lowered to provide a relatively flat event space for the annual Arts Festival to
showcase the Plaza with music, art displays and food vendors.
Fillmore Plaza 09 | Unique atmosphere: The nighttime appeal of the Plaza creates an ambiance found
nowhere else in the District.
Fillmore Plaza 10 | Identity in lights: The District’s identity is strengthened with internally lit ‘blades’ that
have color-changing LED lights for seasonal interest.
Fillmore Plaza 11 | Quality materials: Use of local sandstone walls, stainless steel handrails, high quality
plantings and custom fabricated environmental graphics showcases the District’s commitment to quality.
Fillmore Plaza 12 | Center stage: The ‘Cherry Creek North’ ring on the center canopy is a piece of
‘jewelry’ that provides permanent LED lighting and a place for additional theatrical lighting during events.
Fillmore Plaza 13 | Complete alignment: The overhead view exposes the subtle brick color hues and
banding that the light ‘blades’ and seating are aligned with.
Fillmore Plaza 14 | Setting the mood: The programmable LED light ‘blades’ can create various ambience
effects depending upon the holiday season and time of year.
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