Cleveland Public Square renovations and transformation
How LAND Studio renovated Public Square
By: Anthony Castrovince
The best way to appreciate the new look of downtown Cleveland’s Public Square is to remember what it was — a dowdy collection of decaying traffic islands. It took a 15-month, $50 million renovation to bring Public Square back to life, and today, the space features gorgeous green space, a flowing fountain, a tiered event venue, a restaurant and gardens that bloom all year long.
Behind this change was LAND Studio, the nonprofit landscape and public art agency that managed this renovation, turning the city’s central scar into its central stunner.
“You can’t even remember how bad it was,” says Gregory Peckham, managing director for LAND Studio. “It’s unimaginable to think when you’re in that fountain that there was a road running through it. You see the city around it in such a different way now.”
In Public Square and elsewhere, that is the fundamental goal of an organization that seeks to make pedestrian experiences a little less, well, pedestrian.
What LAND Studio does
The result of a merger of two influential nonprofits — Cleveland Public Art and ParkWorks — LAND is an acronym that stands for Landscape, Art, Neighborhoods and Development. Its aim is to improve Cleveland’s neighborhoods through art, building and programming, thereby spurring economic investment and growth and improving property values.
“It can be in high-profile, high-traffic downtown locations like Public Square, but we also work in neighborhoods across the city, creating parks and green space,” Peckham says. “We also have an arm of the organization that does a tremendous amount of work with public art across the city. That can be anything from large-scale murals that we have been working on along the RTA transit corridors over the last year to actual programming and arts and cultural activities in neighborhood parks.”
How its people help
For LAND Studios, art is not just a form of expression but a tool. The company’s 19 employees lead teams of local, national and international experts to organize ideas, build consensus and execute designs that create a sense of pride and connection.
“These are all very creative young people who are really committed to Cleveland thriving as a city and using creativity to help drive the attractiveness of the city,” Peckham says. “We work with established and well-known national artists, but the majority of our creative talent comes from local, Cleveland-based creative professionals. We get them invested in things outside of the gallery walls that impact the landscape of the city.”
The Public Square project is a prominent example of LAND’s potential to influence the area.
“A great city,” Peckham says, “deserves a great front door. Public Square is that front door.”
About the organization:
Name: LAND Studio
City: Cleveland, Ohio
Phone: (216) 621-5413
Mission: To create places and connect people through public art, sustainable building and design, collaborative planning and dynamic programming
How you can help:
Visit land-studio.org to learn more about LAND Studio and ways to support its work.