The City of Appleton
The Boldt Company
Illinois Chapter ASLA Honor Award, 2013
Charged with the goal of creating a multi-use urban plaza in Appleton, Wisconsin, Hitchcock Design Group was retained by the City to lead the planning efforts for the renovation of Houdini Plaza. The plaza, the site of famed magician Harry Houdini's family mansion, functioned mainly as a seldom-used alleyway until changes in the downtown cityscape caused it to become not only a connection between public and private destinations, but also a focal point for events and activities.
After numerous stakeholder and public input meetings were held to solicit opinions and create “buy-in” for the project, a design was created that provided a venue to host year-round events. Durable and sustainable materials were selected that met reasonable expectations for City staff to operate, service and maintain. The design also increased vehicle and pedestrian circulation. In a nod to the site's history, features such as chain-pattern paving and interlocking "handcuff" rings were incorporated at key locations in the plaza to remind visitors of the nicknames that Harry Houdini was given during his career. Additionally, a fountain with water that “disappears” into the ground plane is proposed as part of the renovation plan.