STAMFORD, CT: On November 11, 2019, a large crowd gathered to watch the annual Veterans Day Parade in Stamford, Connecticut. Following the parade, viewers gathered at the newly renovated Veterans Park for a ceremony to commemorate the completion of the first phase of a three-phase project.
Located in the heart of Stamford’s Downtown Special Services District (DSSD) Veteran Park is bordered by the Landmark Square office complex, a busy bus stop, and the Stamford Town Center Mall. Over time, significant war monuments had been dispersed throughout the park to honor Stamford’s veterans, but the placement of the monuments in high traffic areas let the memorial aspect of the park to be overlooked in the bustle of the urban setting. The arrangement of the monuments, trees, and hardscapes hindered the space from having large events and created hiding places throughout the park, compromising security.
The Veterans Memorial Park Master Plan was used as a visioning instrument for restructuring the disjointed park into a destination for reflection and a landmark for civic activities. The design team, which was led by BETA’s landscape architects and included Northeast Collaborative Architects and CR3, worked closely with the Veterans Memorial Park Ad-Hoc Committee, a stakeholder group that included the City of Stamford, the Stamford Downtown Special Services District, and representatives of abutting properties, on this effort. BETA facilitated a charrette process by listening to the needs of several different stakeholders and their perception of the opportunities and limitations of the site. This process guided the group towards a positive consensus and produced a design that balanced the sensitive treatment of the memorials while providing a safe and compelling public space. BETA then prepared the construction documents for the implementation phase.
At two-thirds complete, the Veterans Memorial theme now encompasses the updated park, with space for quiet reflection as well as public events. The park now has an enhanced plaza with a five-pointed military star, representing the five branches of the military. An amphitheater built into the re-graded hillside seats about 300 people for events, with the possibility for additional seating in the plaza that could accommodate up to 1,000. Pathways lead up the hill to the relocated granite monoliths that honor Stamford’s war veterans, surrounded by benches and landscaping for a meaningful visitor experience.
The ceremony began with bells ringing at Old Town Hall to commemorate the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, a tradition that began following the end of WWI in 1918 and ended with a performance of the traditional “Taps.”
Stamford Mayor David Martin was quotes in the Stamford Advocate, “The monuments have never been more tall or proud. The veterans stand taller and prouder still.”
Flag poles for each branch of the military, lighting, a water feature, seating amenities, and a few other finishing touches will complete the renovation. BETA continues to work with the Veterans Park Partnership (formally the Ad-Hoc Committee) on the next two phases of the project. Phase two is expected to be fully complete by May of 2020, in time for Memorial Day.