Revitalizing the Riverfront

Haddad Riverfront Park is a shining example of what GAI Consultants can do with a new idea, a sound approach, and public support.

“When the City of Charleston, WV decided to add a simple shade structure to its 20-year-old public amphitheater, GAI Consultants spotted a valuable opportunity to holistically improve the aging gathering place, and create a revitalized focal point for downtown Charleston.”

DAVID GILMORE, RLA

“When the City of Charleston, WV decided to add a simple shade structure to its 20-year-old public amphitheater, GAI Consultants spotted a valuable opportunity to holistically improve the aging gathering place, and create a revitalized focal point for downtown Charleston,” said GAI Land Development Services Manager David Gilmore, RLA.

Although the park sits along the edge of downtown Charleston’s busiest area, an unattractive six-foot retaining wall along the amphitheater’s entire length cut it off from major thoroughfare Kanawha Boulevard. Additionally, entrances to the venue were inconveniently located at the amphitheater’s edges, one block apart. These two issues worked to seclude the riverfront from downtown pedestrian traffic.

To address the park’s isolation, GAI proposed removing a large section of the retaining wall and building a grand staircase leading from Kanawha Boulevard to the center of the amphitheater and proposed shade structure. This design will open up downtown access to the park and make the riverfront, for the first time, an integrated part of downtown Charleston.

As the project’s prime engineer, GAI Consultants teamed with architecture firm Silling Associates to lead the design, construction, and engineering for this $4.5 million renovation. Besides the shade structure and grand staircase, GAI has designed:

  • Attractive streetscaping, signage, and pedestrian crosswalks that integrate the venue into the downtown area and create visual interest;
  • A central plaza across four-lane Kanawha Boulevard, which will be closed to traffic during events, that features pavers displaying the city’s logo;
  • And a permanent bandshell event stage, known as the Schoenbaum Stage, to host larger acts and to serve as a venue for the West Virginia Symphony. The bandshell is designed to mimic a boat’s stern wheel.

Since the project began, multiple funding sources, including the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, have generously contributed to the Haddad Riverfront Park renovations, expanding the project’s scope to address comprehensive issues beyond the amphitheater’s shade structure. Ideas initially intended for future phasing have now become actual projects of the present. Completed in time for the 2010 Memorial Day festivities, the future looks bright for Haddad Riverfront Park and the City of Charleston.

Services provided:

  • Conceptual design and master plans
  • Landscape architecture
  • Streetscape design
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Structural engineering
  • Construction administration

For more information, please contact David Gilmore, RLA, ASLA, GAI-Charleston Land Development Services Manager, at 304.926.8100.

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