Charleston, SC (1998–2002)
A 10-acre public space that connects many different neighborhoods, Marion Square occupies a crucial position in the urban structure of Charleston. Building on its long history as a public place, the contemporary park serves a number of adjacent neighborhoods with a broad multi-ethnic demographic. Marion Square has been used as a military marching ground since before the revolutionary war and was the site of a celebratory parade by the city’s African-American residents after the Civil War. Prior to its renovation, the park was well used though badly run down. Given the historic importance of Marion Square and the ongoing popularity it enjoys, extensive community outreach was undertaken by MVVA as part of the design process.
The MVVA restoration design for Marion Square honors the site’s history, introduces a new performance area, incorporates a paved area for a farmer’s market, and completely redesigns all site furniture, pavement, planting, lighting, and signage. A new fountain featuring aquatic plants marks the most public corner of the park. The design also reflects Charleston’s horticultural role as a port of entry for exotic vegetation in the southern United States; promenades framed by native and exotic plant species border the square, creating a shady and cool microclimate around the perimeter.