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Piazza Bergamo

January 01, 2016 · Public Space, Streetscape ·  Greenville, SC

Greenville has an unusually vibrant downtown, active with local businesses, restaurants and entertainment. Main Street was remade by Lawrence Halprin in the 70’s and remains a handsome street with a mature canopy of Willow Oaks. The corner of Main and Washington was the home of the Woolworths lunch counter that was the site of a famous sit-in by four young black men in 1960. Since then this corner has been the center of town, even though the lunch counter went to museum and the building is gone.


One of the keys to Greenville’s revitalization was the creation in the early 80’s of the Piazza Bergamo, named after a sister city. The Piazza was home to events and concerts for 25 years but had become worn, and the concerts had devolved into weekly loud beer parties. It was time for change. Civitas was originally engaged by Hughes Development to conceive of a new role for the public space as part of a new mixed-use development on the Woolworths site.


Civitas led a community engagement process that determined that people were ready for a more restrained, comfortable and attractive plaza for daily use, with the potential for smaller occasional events. Seating, sun and shade, water, color, and plants were used to make a place to wait, meet, chat, have a meal, and enjoy the active street life that makes Greenville enjoyable.


The plaza design is themed from the history of the region as a place of weaving. Layers and folds of patterns, a long fountain and urban couch form that spine that attracts people to engage and relax.


*Text from Civitas Inc.