Web Sites, Documents and Articles >> Hartford Courant News Articles >

Bushnell Plaza's Problems Will Take Big Money To Fix

February 19, 2006
By JAMES C. ROUMAN, Courant Staff Writer

The critics of Bushnell Plaza have a point. Christine Palm was the latest, on these pages, where she wrote," Bushnell Plaza, an elevated L-shaped expanse in downtown Hartford, may be the most overlooked and underused space in the city." While I agree with her conclusion, it is important that she and others of like mind understand some of the reasons this is the case.

Bushnell Plaza is a separately owned entity from Bushnell Tower, the 27-story residential building adjacent to it. A privately owned facility composed of an underground garage and commercial units, the plaza was conceived by I.M. Pei in the '60s - a time of urban unrest - to have a Kremlin-style front on Main Street intended to enclose and secure properties that could be accessed from either Gold or Wells streets.

That the structure is now barren and devoid of aesthetic interest or purpose cannot be denied by anyone possessing 20/20 vision. Although large planters with trees were originally situated on the plaza, these were removed when it became necessary to repair the floor of the space that began leaking water onto the shops below. And after multiple attempts and the expenditure of large sums of money to stem the leakage, the area is seen now by many merely as a failed attempt at urban design.

Considerable thought, nevertheless, has been given over time by the owners to producing something that would be attractive and useful to the citizens of Hartford. One idea to create a sculpture court in collaboration with the Wadsworth Atheneum was aborted due to the recurring problem with the plaza floor. Returning plantings as well as benches to the plaza was considered, as were numerous other ideas emanating from architectural student projects designed to find a solution to the "eyesore" on Main Street.

Every suggestion offering to do wondrous things, however, calls for the expenditure of large amounts of money. But whose money would be spent has always been the overriding issue. Certainly the present owners would welcome reasonable ideas from developers offering the support necessary to accomplish something from the laundry list Christine Palm sets forth.

And help from city hall or the abutting and cash-loaded MDC and the adjacent Travelers Insurance Co. would not be refused. But the present ownership, weary from the continuous need to fork over dollar after dollar to keep the structure intact, is hesitant to embark upon any expensive upgrade that might require staffing or even incur liabilities without help from public or private sources to address complaints about a situation that is both complex and long-existing.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
Powered by Hartford Public Library  

Includes option to search related Hartford sites.

Advanced Search
Search Tips

Can't Find It? Have a Question?