The Gateway project began in 2014 as an extensive eight-month-long community visioning process resulting in a schematic master plan for public art in the downtown area. The master plan was funded by the Downtown CID (the District), and the board has worked to bring the plan to fruition since. In 2017, the Downtown CID celebrated the installation of three new “Light Hubs” the first of several planned installations that will help establish an appropriate civic identity for downtown Columbia. [Link to 2014 Master Plan]
The largest individual component of the Gateways master plan is a plaza at the intersection of Broadway and Providence, on City-owned land, part of Lot 183 of the Original Town of Columbia. The centerpiece of the plaza design is an iconic sculpture of the word COLUMBIA. The sculpture will feature five-foot-tall stainless-steel letters, plus an eight-foot globe in place of the “O”. The design of the globe will feature words Columbians have used to describe their community as well as dates of important historical events. Each letter will include a brief description of historical themes such as the development of Courthouse Square and the education of women in Columbia. [Link to plans here]
Gateway Plaza and Flat Branch Park:
Recent City acquisition of land for park expansion near Broadway and Providence presented a perfect opportunity to integrate the well-vetted Gateway designs with the development of the new parkland. Although the Gateway Plaza is solely a project of the downtown CID, it has been designed to complement expansion and redevelopment of adjacent land in Flat Branch Park. The park development is overseen by the Mayor’s Committee on Bicentennial Planning (CoMo200). Construction of Gateway Plaza fulfills a Downtown CID pledge to contribute up to one million dollars towards improvements in that area as a celebration of Columbia’s Bicentennial in 2021. The Plaza and Sculpture are expected to cost just over $1 million.
Plans call for the Plaza site work to be complete in time for Bicentennial celebrations in mid-2021; installation of the Columbia sculpture will follow in the fall of 2021. The Downtown CID has hired local engineering firm PCE to install the Plaza site improvements and landscaping. Local craftsman Emmet Russell, Russellbilt, will work with Grove Construction to create and install the Columbia sculpture. Design work for the plaza was done by Arcturis of St. Louis. Crockett Engineering of Columbia is responsible for project management and oversight.
The Gateways Master Plan
Welcoming visitors downtown is key to enhancing economic development.
The vitality and creative appeal of downtown Columbia make it a destination for tens of thousands of visitors each year. For too long, however, Columbia has lacked strong visual cues to alert visitors that they have arrived in the heart of our city. The Gateways project addresses this need in a dynamic way, with visual icons that welcome visitors downtown and encourage them to explore and experience Columbia.
The Downtown Community Improvement District is taking the lead in creating a unique visual identity for Columbia.
The Gateways is an exciting combination of decorative public art, street beautification, and enhanced pedestrian safety. It is a celebration of what makes The District the cultural, entertainment, and commercial heart of Columbia. The project includes an iconic Gateway Plaza at Broadway & Providence, and four distinctive Entry Gateways and pedestrian improvements at major entrances to downtown. A series of illuminated art installations called Light Hubs will span select downtown streets, sparking the imagination and reflecting our unique civic identity.
The largest public/private art initiative in city history.
The Gateways project represents an innovative public/private partnership. The Columbia City Council has endorsed The Gateways, granting the use of city-owned right-of-way for the project. With funding provided by the Downtown CID, the first three Light Hubs have been installed at Flat Branch Park, Wabash Station and the Sharp End. Grants and transportation funding will complement ongoing community donations to pay for additional Gateways project components.