A popular downtown community gathering space – a place for Saturday morning market meet-ups, Thursday night concerts, outdoor movies, seasonal ice skating and more – is about to get a big overhaul.
Boyd Plaza, outside the Columbia Museum of Art, will look very different by this time next year.
New landscaping, seating areas, signage and a redesigned fountain will create a location “that feels like a downtown park,” architect Doug Quackenbush, of Quackenbush Architects, said.
The most striking features of the renovated plaza will be a pair of pavilions flanking the main entrance of the museum.
To the left of the entrance, a large covered pavilion with roll-down canvas walls will offer a space for indoor-outdoor-style events. And to the right, a smaller, pavilion covered by an open trellis will sit on a platform overlooking Main Street.
“It will be completely open to the public to sit up there and people watch or enjoy an afternoon,” Quackenbush said. “There aren’t that many of those types of spaces in Columbia.”
The new-look Boyd Plaza means an end to the Main Street Ice skating rink in that location, where thousands have skated for the past six holiday seasons. City officials reportedly are considering possible alternative locations for the ice rink.
The goal of the redesigned plaza is to “have it be a more user-friendly place for people to land on any given day,” said Joelle Ryan-Cook, the museum’s deputy director. “It’ll be a shadier space. It’ll be a space that’s more comfortable to sit and relax.”
And it will be designed to accommodate larger events, from the museum’s quarterly Arts & Draughts bash to events hosted by outside organizations, Ryan-Cook said.
The plaza renovation is a gift to the city from the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Foundation Inc., foundation president George Bailey said. The foundation initiated the project because it felt the plaza was “looking kind of tired” and wanted to make it more of an asset for community use, Bailey said.
An early estimate for the project’s cost is around $2.8 million, Bailey said, though that figure could change.
It will complement a $5 million renovation already underway inside the museum, which has been recognized as one of the best museums in the country, winning the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
Construction on Boyd Plaza is expected to begin late next spring or in the summer, Ryan-Cook said. Both the plaza and interior renovations should be complete by late next fall, she said.