Southwest Airlines and PPS partnered with the Balboa Park Conservancy to activate the Plaza de Panama at the very heart of Balboa Park. The Plaza’s location is unbeatable—it sits at the pedestrian gateway along El Prado, the main boulevard, and is surrounded on all sides by cultural institutions and attractions, including the San Diego Museum of Art, Sculpture Court Café, Mingei International Museum, The Timken Museum of Art, and the park visitor center. Yet despite its prime setting, the Plaza was a largely empty expanse, having recently been converted from a parking lot.
In response to valuable input from stakeholders, Heart of the Community enhanced the Plaza so that it now caters to the millions of annual guests to Balboa Park and the institutions it houses. Improvements include new amenities like tables, chairs, umbrellas, benches, games, and an “outdoor living room” and lawn for lounging. Specially-crafted presentation panels allow the adjacent museums to have their collections and exhibits spill outside in to the public realm. Ample open space has been preserved to host performances and special events from the city at large.
The Plaza showcases and celebrates the diverse identity of the Balboa Park community and San Diego, providing a place for residents and visitors to relax and soak in the incredible civic treasure all around them. As Balboa Park celebrates the 100th anniversary of the monumental 1915 Panama-California Exhibition, the additions to Plaza de Panama help elevate the Park as one of the world’s top destinations.
Many great public spaces have grown out of communities resisting development. It is the evolution from opposition to proactive visioning - helping to create, finance, and manage public spaces - that often makes the opposition successful. Congress Square, and the community around it, are forging this story of transformation.
Mayor Bill de Blasio caused quite a stir around New York City yesterday as he floated the idea of tearing up the pedestrian plaza in Times Square. This statement was the culmination of several days of debate centered around predatory panhandling and the square’s growing number of “street performers.”