Sneak peek of Piazza Bergamo downtown

Piazza Bergamo vision

Piazza Bergamo is what used to be a very cute, quaint place right in the heart of downtown Greenville, SC.  I often park in Richardson Street garage, which empties out into Piazza Bergamo.  There was a big, green open space where kids often romped around as parents watched them, enjoying a cone of ice cream.  Sassafras is right along the piazza, as well as the G-Spot (well known as the college kids club).  This is where random street bands would come play, the “Best Bartender Title” contests were done, etc.  There used to be a large brick staircase that people could sit on – kind of like an ampitheatre – when events took place in the small, cozy area.  When they tore down the buildings next to Piazza Bergamo, it became a very empty place.  No more beautiful, shaded terrace with romantic park-bench seating.  No more super cute dogs running around in the grass.  Any moment you might think a tumbleweed could come rolling through there.

Apparently, Building One is going here – the new Certus Bank building.  There leaves a little strip of land that will become the new Piazza Bergamo.  What goes in this space now?  Tonight, Civitas presented their vision to the Greenville public.


Shade Structure: the new strip will stretch all the way from Main to Laurens – all in the same materials and color scheme so it takes on the look of a unified space.  The shade structure is going to be  a unique, light shimmer metal fabric.  Sheer.  But creating a lot of shade – just by overlapping these large, structural ribbons.  One good question someone had: what do you do about pigeons perching on the shade feature?  They said they’d have to look into that.

Green areas: there are a few circular green areas that will slope up about 3′ in the back.  Wooden circular benches will snuggle into these curves and create great places for families, small conversational places for couples, etc.  There will also be a small water feature curving around the green space.  Neat!

Feeling: They want to create a sense of a forest.  Lots of greenery with good, mature trees – oaks, I believe they said.  The stone being used is most likely going to be like that at the Peace Center – a local stone with great texture: grey, brown and orange in color.

Special Lighting: There are three options for lighting being considered.  Whatever they decide, they want to make it a part of the architecture.  The lighting is going to be low-energy use, a part of the art and should be “really special” Civitas said.
(1) Moonlighting: A cool light, glowing on the ground.  You won’t know where it’s coming from since it’s source will be on the Building One’s structure above.
(2) Columnar Lighting: this would be a very exciting look (like columns, as the name suggests).
(3) Integrated Lighting: this would be built into the seating, benches, etc.  Like uplighting.

Timeline: Construction begins August 2012.  The piazza is set to open by December 2012 – the same time Building One is set to open.

Green Screen Panels: they’re studying using this product, green screen panels, which would fit in the openings of the two parking structures behind the piazza.  This would allow us to grow plants on the screens. 🙂

Elevator changes: The Richardson parking garage elevator will now land on the ground level (instead of having to walk up or down half a flight of stairs to get to the street).  So now, you’ll walk out level on the street, facing the Mast General Store.

What do I think overall?  Sweet!  I love the green areas.  I like the addition of more trees and the shade feature (anything that shimmers is fantastic in my book).  It’s not our old Piazza Bergamo with the big green open space, but it does step Greenville’s game up to have a bit of downtown that’s more metro – while still maintaining the integrity that makes us beautiful.  Looking forward to it!

Piazza Bergamo – vision layout

Piazza Bergamo - vision layout
Piazza Bergamo - vision layout