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Name picked for new downtown park, but agency decides to try again; art concepts revealed

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The Capital City Development Corp. was set to approve a name for a new park slated for 11th St. and Idaho St. in Downtown Boise. At the last minute, the agency’s commission decided to hold off and try again.

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According to the board packet, a committee of ‘project stakeholders’ met virtually to come up with and select a name. They landed on 11th Street Commons, which the board packet described as coming via “overwhelming consensus.”

“The committee believes the name ‘Commons’ presents a welcoming, accessible face to a public park in a part of downtown that currently lacks a gathering spot for the community,” a project report from Boise branding firm Oliver Russel noted. “The park is anticipated to become the new center of the neighborhood and will serve as a common area to bring urban livability to office workers, residents, shoppers, and visitors of the west side of downtown.”

Holding off on Commons

CCDC board chair Dana Zuckerman, who also sat on the branding committee, asked the commission to hold off on approving the proposed name.

“I would like to defer this item to another meeting. This committee came up with a name that has not been received enthusiastically,” Zuckerman said. “I’d like to revisit this name and see if there are other alternatives that somebody can come up with. I don’t know if it’s the process or the committee or what it was but we just fell flat. Anything interesting was too controversial. It would be great to have another month to look at this from different angles and see if we can come up with something better.”

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Fellow commissioner Maryanne Jordan agreed.

“I appreciate this effort,” Jordan said. “I read through that and was left a little flat by the whole thing. We are in a time where naming has taken on a whole new level of consideration, and this process may have started a little bit prior and I’m happy to take a pause and reconsider.”

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean also agreed the decision could wait but said Zuckerman and the committee should not take it personally.

“Commissioner Jordan is right that naming is so important right now. I don’t want you to leave thinking it was the group of people – I think it’s tough right now,” McLean said. “I would propose that while this will not and should not impact the construction of the park, I don’t want us to feel rushed into coming up with something for this spot.”

Art concepts

Night Light Boise
A rendering of the Night Light concept. Via Boise City Arts & History

The commission also saw a pair of concepts for a new large-scale piece of public art set to anchor the park. We told you in December about the commission of Matthew Mazzotta to come up with concepts for the art piece.

The first concept, called “Night Light,” would provide a structure that illuminates in the evening.

“It’s an illuminated structure that sits on a… berm,” Karl LeClair with City of Boise’s Arts & History Department said. “It serves as a human-scale gathering place in the park and is surrounded by designs in fabricated tree forms. It invites people up to the top of the hill and creates different frame perspectives once inside the structure.”

When lit up, LeClair said the effect is like sitting around a campfire.

The second concept, called Gentle Breeze, puts a shining tree on a hill in the city.

Gentle Breeze
A rendering of the Gentle Breeze concept, via Boise City Arts & History

“It presents itself as a tree on top a hill,” LeClair said. “Again we are looking at the same scale berm. It creates some height and a natural pedestal for the artwork to sit on. (It includes) a tree on top the hill with swings. There are full-scale park bench swings. The tree is 23 feet high and will provide some shade in the time it takes the other trees int the park to mature.”

The ‘leaves’ that make up the canopy of the artwork would articulate, or move, to “respond to the movements of the air in the space.”

Arts & History will look to gather public feedback on the concepts later this month.

Work on the park will start this fall and wrap up by the spring of 2021. The 11th & Idaho building the park sits next to should be complete late this year.

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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