Veterans Memorial Park is in the heart of Stamford’s downtown commercial district and is bordered by the Landmark Square office complex, a busy bus stop, First County Bank, and the Stamford Town Center Mall. Significant war monuments have been dispersed throughout the park to honor Stamford’s veterans, but the haphazard placement of the monuments has allowed the memorial aspect of the park to be overlooked in the bustle of the urban setting. A feeling of disconnectedness, lack of meaningful park use, and recent crime activity brought together a group of local business leaders, representatives from the City of Stamford, the Stamford Downtown Special Services District (a Business Improvement District), and veterans as an ad-hoc committee to improve the park for the community.
BETA was hired to work with the ad-hoc committee and public to develop a master plan that would honor Stamford’s veterans, improve connectivity, activate the park, and accommodate a wide variety of users. Starting in February of 2015, the design team began leading design charrettes with the committee in a process that started with understanding the park from the standpoint of various stakeholders and park users. The committee was comprised of a diverse selection of individuals from the Stamford community, to ensure that all concerns were taken into consideration. The team conceived several preliminary design options that accommodated the varied interests of the group and culminated with a final master plan that was supported unanimously by the committee.
The Veterans Memorial theme will encompass the entire new park, with space for quiet reflection as well as public events. The new park will have an enhanced plaza with a central memorial feature representing the five branches of the military. An amphitheater built into the re-graded hillside will seat about 300 people for events, with the possibility for additional seating in the plaza that could accommodate up to 1,000. Pathways will lead up the hill to the “high ground” where the relocated granite monoliths and other monuments that honor Stamford’s war veterans, surrounded by benches and landscaping for a meaningful visitor experience. Connectivity from the bus stop to the surrounding buildings will be improved and safety concerns will be addressed by establishing greater visibility into and throughout the park.
The plan has been widely accepted by the community and is scheduled to be implemented in a series of phases over the next five years.