Charlottesville, Virginia, 2019
Idea - Design 
Colonnade Park takes the existing entry-stair to University Baptist Church and extrudes it west into the pocket park adjacent to the church building. Here the stairs become an elevated porch letting the existing trees take on the role of columns—creating a natural colonnade that exalts nature as an essential part of creation. In addition, three miniature mobile staircases will convert the parking lot into a public square. On Sunday mornings, these stairs can be stored in a parking spot, and the lot can be left to function as expected. On special occasions, the stairs are rolled into the lot, and the space is transformed into a vibrant public square suitable for community gatherings.
As an architectural element, the stair is meant to serve as a gateway between two spaces: inside to outside; upstairs to downstairs; one room to another. The stair represents ascension and dissension: a passing from one duality to another. In our installation, however, this expectation is subverted; the stair does not lead to anything and instead is granted worth on its own.
In his seminal book, A Pattern Language, architect Christopher Alexander describes how “a staircase is not just about getting from one floor to another.” In fact, he writes, “the stair itself is a space:” an object useful in its own right, regardless of the building that it supports. In Colonnade Park, we exalt this inherent usefulness by removing the stair from its initial function altogether. The design weaves together a composition made of stairs that do not lead anywhere and that are instead freed to delight in their adapted uses: as seats; as stages; as pulpits; as the facilitators of public programming.