Public Forum Planned for Hartford "iQuilt" Project
HARTFORD, CT – The Bushnell is hosting a public forum for Hartford’s iQuilt project on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 5:00 p.m. in The Bushnell’s Belding Theater when architect Douglas Suisman will present his preliminary vision plan for the project and be available to receive public comments and ideas.
What’s an “iQuilt”? Envisaged as a loose grid of park-to-river pedestrian routes, the iQuilt aims to weave together Hartford’s key cultural sites and institutions around the theme of cultural innovation in order to promote economic growth and the redevelopment of the Capitol district. The Bushnell and The Greater Hartford Arts Council are co-leading the project, which will complement the ongoing state, city and private sector efforts to revitalize Hartford’s economy and neighborhoods. Planning for the iQuilt project was funded in part by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, and a group of individual and corporate donors.
Hartford – unlike many American cities – enjoys a remarkably compact and clearly bounded downtown. With the small square area of the iQuilt ( just over a half mile square) bounded by Buckingham/Charter Oak Avenue, I-84, and the Connecticut River, is a loose grid of north-south and east-west streets which, in map view, form a kind of charmingly irregular quilt. Within this quilt, almost all the key cultural destinations, including the Capitol, Bushnell Park, The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford Stage Company, the Old State House, and the new Connecticut Science Center, are within a 15 minute walk of each other. The iQuilt will make it easy and enjoyable to walk from one cultural asset to another, while linking them conceptually under a theme of cultural innovation – in science, art and human affairs.
The planning process for the iQuilt project began in mid-March with a series of three roundtable discussions between interested stakeholders, community leaders and Hartford native Douglas Suisman, principal of Suisman Urban Design of Los Angeles. Roundtable participants shared their ideas for downtown and how their individual organizations might participate in and benefit from the final visioning plan. Suisman, the recipient of the 2006 American Institute of Architects’ international award for best urban design, and noted Hartford architect Tyler Smith of Smith Edwards Architects, winners of the 2009 Connecticut Governor’s Arts Award, are the project’s planning principals.
The planning process will culminate with the development of a culture-based vision for downtown Hartford which will focus on and connect the cultural assets of the Capitol City. The vision plan will also feature programming and development options for housing, commercial, streetscape, and transit from the State Capitol to Main Street.