Cleveland's Wade Oval is just seven acres, but it is uniquely-situated amid many of the most important cultural institutions in the city, including the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Botanical Garden, and Cleveland Art Museum. Located in the University Circle neighborhood that is home to Case Western Reserve University, the Oval is at the center of a neighborhood that draws tens of thousands of students, patients and visitors daily.
At the request of University Circle, Inc., a local nonprofit planning and development organization, PPS worked with citizens in University Circle, institutional stakeholders and internationally renowned architects and designers hired to expand several of these institutions, to help the Oval's adjacent uses benefit from their unique location on the Oval, and transform the Oval itself -- and the boulevard around it -- to become more welcoming to both visitors and the local community, and enlivened by events and activities programmed by the rich array of partners around it.
PPS recommended a plan to connect the institutions to one another and to the park, partly through small changes to building facades and outdoor areas that reveal more information about what's going on inside these buildings. Using PPS' conceptual plan, University Circle, Inc initiated a $1.4 million renovation of the Oval, which was completed in October of 2003, revealing such improvements as new walkways, pathway lighting, benches, lampposts, drinking fountains, and a performance stage that blends in with the surrounding landscape. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's architecture critic, Steve Litt, wrote of the revitalized Oval "The transformation though modest in cost is astonishing. UCI has turned the park into a postcard-perfect amenity worthy of any city in the world."
With locally-inspired activities that fly in the face of traditional park programs, from bread-baking to puppet shows, Toronto residents created a community place out of a park neglected by locals and city officials alike.