Main Street Square is a vibrant year-round destination for outdoor concerts, festivals, and markets located at the corner of 6th and Main Streets in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota. Formerly a one-acre impervious asphalt parking lot, this professionally-managed urban plaza showcases, through art, the natural and cultural history of the Black Hills region. The heavily programmed square fulfills a critical function as an outdoor gathering place, which the city previously lacked, and provides an activity, event and entertainment venue for local residents as well as the four million tourists who travel through the region annually.
The design reflects its urban setting and unique geographical location between the Black Hills and Badlands. The space changes seasonally with an ice-skating rink and fire pit in winter; and waterfalls, interactive fountains, and lawn to enjoy during summer. A covered performance stage with integrated sound and lighting provides year-round opportunity for productions.
Rundell Ernstberger Associates’ design creates a strong sense of place, by highlighting the region’s history, culture, and the landscape forms of the Black Hills and Badlands. These features are evidenced in the materials, artworks, and overall character of the square.
Along 6th and Main Streets, Rundell Ernstberger Associates strategically placed “Tapestry Gardens” ― a unique visual and spatial separation between the square and the adjacent traffic. These gardens consist of a series of large native granite stones and two 35’ spires at the intersection of the streets. The stones and spires will be intricately sculpted on site to portray the contrasting landscapes of the Badlands and the Black Hills. The sculptural carvings will depict the natural and cultural history of the Badlands (Main Street Garden), the Black Hills (Sixth Street Garden) and the settlement of Rapid City (spires).
Implementing Rundell Ernstberger Associates’ concept for a unique approach to accomplishing the artwork, the Rapid City Arts Council conducted an international search for qualified sculptors interested in competing for the in-residence art commission. Of the 88 responses received from artists around the world, 5 finalists were interviewed, and one will be selected in November to begin the sculpting project in the spring of 2013. This one-of-a-kind project, designed with the intention of engaging residents and visitors in the artistic process, is expected to take 3-5 years to complete, and has generated more than $2 million in private gifts towards its completion.
Given the wide variety of events programmed into the space, infrastructure, which includes over 5 miles of conduit and piping, was thoughtfully planned to accommodate farmers’ markets, art fairs and exhibitions, holiday festivals, concerts, plays, ice skating performances, and summer night movies. Surrounding the great lawn, eight light towers with custom metalwork beautifully conceal built-in speakers for distributed sound throughout the park.
An interactive fountain creates a dynamic summer focal point with choreographed musical and light shows for entertainment, as well as passive water play. A 15’ waterfall drops out of the Black Hills Spire and falls into the Roughlock Cascade between the two spires, providing white noise that muffles the clamor of the bustling cityscape. Along the streets, stormwater planters capture runoff and allow it to percolate into the subgrade.
At the corner of 6th and Main Streets, a pedestrian belvedere overlooks the square from an elevated position. Flanked by the spires, the belvedere is paved with a representation of a Lakota Medicine Wheel, symbolizing the interconnectivity of life.
Main Street Square has become the keystone of a new wave of downtown revitalization in Rapid City. Dozens of new and adaptive re-use developments are underway in adjacent and surrounding blocks. It has become an inviting and exciting destination for local residents and tourists alike. Alluring features and year-round activities inspire people to visit again and again – there is always something happening at Main Street Square.
Main Street Square | Rapid City USA | Rundell Ernstberger Associates
Client: Destination Rapid City
Owner: City of Rapid City
Lead Design & Landscape Architect: Rundell Ernstberger Associates, LLC
Principle-in-charge: Deane Rundell
Design Team: Deane Rundell, Eric Ernstberger, Pete Andriot
Project Manager: Peter Andriot
Architecture & Civil Engineering: FourFront Design, Inc.
Mechanical & Electrical Engineering : Skyline Engineering, LLC.
Structural Engineer: Albertson Engineering, Inc.
Fountain Consultant: Delta Fountains
Audio/Visual Consultant: Haggerty’s Audio Visual
Ice Rink Consultant: Magic Ice USA
Sculpture Consultant: Dale Lamphere
Size: 1 acre
IMAGE CREDITS | As Noted