Savannah’s new Ellis Square redevelopment wins Congress for New Urbanism Charter award

Georgia’s first city is world-renowned for its urban design layout and  21 city squares.  

Now, CNU has awarded the city with an important international Charter award in urban design.

One of the original four squares laid out in 1733, Ellis Square was also known as the marketplace square for generations.  Over the years, the square became covered by successive market buildings.  The fourth City Market building, built in 1872, was a picturesque industrial iron building embellished with Romanesque brick arches.  It was an important city meeting place for nearly 200 years.  However, in 1954, the old City Market was razed to build a modern economically designed (read: butt-ugly) parking garage… let’s just say it was one of the worst looking parking garages I’ve seen.

Interesting side notes:  The New York Times reported on the razing of the market in 1954.  Locally, this began a groundswell for historic preservation.

In 2004, The City of Savannah began a decade long design process for the restoration of the square and redevelopment of the district.  The two-acre square was constructed on top of a new four-story underground parking garage.  The project was awarded a LEED Gold certification.   Adjacent private development included condominiums, new street level retail, office building, hotel, and adaptive reuse of several historic structures.

The project reweaves the broken urban fabric which General Oglethorpe laid out.  The new square design includes a recessed oval lawn, an interactive play fountain, life-sized chess set, large transplanted live oak trees, street furnishings, restrooms and welcome center.  It may have taken them 70 years, but they got it right.

Ellis Square Timelapse Savannah, Georgia from Andy Young on Vimeo.

new office building by Smallwood Reynolds Stewart Stewart

Andaz Hotel (by Hyatt) and Condos

Savannah, GA : Ellis Square
Savannah, GA : Ellis Square (Photo credit: jacqueline.poggi)

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