St. Pete Pier – ULI Americas Awards for Excellence Winner
Learn more about 2022 ULI Americas Awards for Excellence Finalist, St. Pete Pier (St. Petersburg, FL).
POPCourts! is a 7,000sf community plaza in the Austin Neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. The park serves residents along Chicago Avenue – one of Austin’s (and Chicago’s) primary commercial corridors.
POPCourts! was born out of the pandemic and civil unrest and developed in concert with Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West initiative. The goal was to provide a safe community space that residents could enjoy outdoors during the pandemic, while also creating a visible feature along Chicago Avenue, strengthening the corridor, and Austin Neighborhood as a whole.
Designers transformed an empty city lot on the corner of Chicago and Lockwood into three zones, “Courts,” each serving a variety of community functions, with the programming meant to be flexible, allowing activities to “Pop” up and transform over time.
The basketball court doubles as a community plaza. The gravel drive hosts food trucks, farmers markets and other seasonal vendors, and the shaded lawn functions as a Food Court with casual seating. Artwork brings the project together, figuratively and literally. Local artists were engaged to paint murals on the adjacent building walls, depicting figures such as Malcom X, Harriet Tubman, and Maya Angelou. The site itself, and spilling out onto the sidewalk and into the street, is painted with a Pop Art theme.
A groundbreaking event for POPCourts! took place in October 2020, generating excitement and anticipation for the opening. During design and construction, the site sparked conversation and investigation by local groups of students interested in urban design, public art, and community planning.