In Brief: Art and Public Spaces on Toledo’s Waterfront

ProMedica Plaza and Promenade Park opened in August 2017, comprising 11 acres (4.5 ha) along the Maumee River in Toledo, Ohio. The HKS-designed master plan was the result of a collaborative process that included HKS, MKSK, and Sandvik Architects, together with the leadership of Randy Oostra, ProMedica’s chief executive officer. To create a more efficient workplace and demonstrate a commitment to Toledo’s core, Oostra chose to relocate administrative staff from 20 locations to a new, unified headquarters in the city. ProMedica’s move represented the largest influx of jobs into downtown Toledo in decades.

The campus plan integrates new and existing buildings of varied architectural character—including an 1895 Daniel Burnham steam plant that was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003—to create a modern workplace that embodies ProMedica’s vision, mission, and values and extends its commitment to health and well-being from the office into the design of the public space. ProMedica medical buildings are known for their integration of immersive artworks; the incorporation of art into healing environments stems from a desire to care for patients not only physically, but also mentally, and extending even further to embrace the broader community.

For the organization’s outdoor spaces, Oostra looked to the example of Millennium Park in Chicago. Ultimately programmed with multiple passive and active uses, the Promenade open-space design includes a major public art component. In collaboration with the Toledo Arts Commission, three signature sculptures with a combined budget of $805,000 were commissioned from four artists, three of whom are Ohio residents: Kristine Rumman and Dane Turpening created Echo, a 22-ton metal sculpture constructed out of 11 rings from the former steam plants smokestacks; Danielle Roney created Trace, constructed of 5,500 glass spheres suspended from over 1,000 steel cables; and Erwin Redl created Tower of Light, an interactive six-story light installation constructed of 147 individually programmable glass panels.

The park was inaugurated in summer 2017 with a series of outdoor concerts and festivals so that together the architecture, open space, public art, and community events all come together to transform this part of the Toledo riverfront.

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