Old School Square Master Plan Project:

Delray Beach, Florida

Project Total Square Footage: 6.25 Acres

Anticipated Date of Completion: 2020

Analysis of the site began with consultation from the Community Redevelopment Agency as well as substantial involvement from community leaders and participants consisting of representatives from all geographical areas of the city. A public ‘poll’ survey was produced and conducted with the purpose of gathering a list of categories significant to users and prioritizing them in order of importance. The process continued with constant community involvement through several charrette meetings. These brainstorming sessions, informed by survey results, proceeded to refine the hierarchical list of categories and began the process of integrating the categorical elements into the site plan. A major challenge was in accommodating large venues, like the ‘Christmas tree lighting’, for which the new infrastructure required for the 100′ tall tree meant the existing tree placement needed relocating. As the monthly meetings continued, exploration into circulation / movement / connectivity brought forth the introduction of ‘activity edges’ to organize and reinforce inter-connectivity within the site. ‘Figure units’ shown in varying colors were used to represent grouped amenities and aided in determining location and placement that ultimately shaped the Old School Square master plan.

Read more on the project’s progress in this Palm Beach Post article.

Old School Square, built in 1913, once served as the town’s Elementary School as well as the High School subsequently built in 1925. The complex located in the coastal town of Delray Beach, FL is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since completion of its restoration in 1990, the historic complex has become a cultural and economic boom to the life of the community and spawned a renaissance for a dying downtown. Today, Old School Square sits as a cornerstone of cultural arts in Delray Beach. The campus includes the Cornell Art Museum, presenting rotating exhibits of contemporary art; the Crest Theater, featuring an array of national tours, musicals, Broadway cabaret, comedy, film, and lectures; the Fieldhouse, once the original gymnasium, used for special events, receptions, and private parties; and the Creative Arts School, featuring art, photography, writing and performance classes. The campus also includes the Pavilion, which opened in 2002, and serves as an open-air performance venue. The Old School Square lawns provide open greenspace in the heart of downtown and hosts a myriad of events, festivals, and weekly Green Market.
Many years of continued usage and neglectful maintenance prompted the community to demand a completely new plan for the site. Therefore, the Old School Square Master Plan Project was developed for the purpose of upgrading the existing site and creating cohesion between the historical and modern elements of the campus. The proposed design is intended to provide improved infrastructure for flexibility of use, support ongoing programming / daily use of facilities, provide economic opportunity, as well as generate intimate and creative focal points enhancing the unique campus as a unified functioning arts and entertainment center.