North Cortez Music Venue

Nov 4, 2021

The owners invited us to create a vision for a downtown premier outdoor music venue for 300 to 1000 spectators. They liked the notion of mixing contemporary building expressions into the existing building fabric, so did we.  Two of the historic buildings are to have the exteriors fully restored.  The three-story hotel that has been vacant for decades we recommended restoring back into a hotel to increase foot traffic and offering much-needed downtown lodging options.  A number of the remaining buildings were assessed and recommended for removal, except for a masonry storefront which will be preserved as a historic fragment and will act as a grand entrance & threshold into the courtyard performance space where the stage looks onto a treed cloistered brick-paved plaza.  Our idea was to keep the historic structures as artifacts and fill in with very contemporary new building forms and landscape evoking something new and compelling emerging from these rustic relics.  To activate the space, we employed the ‘power of 10’ Project for Public Spaces framework, integrating, retail, museum & gift shop recognizing local musical artists, food, and beverage establishments, and more.

After developing a pattern language and design principles for the design we created 12 potential site plan diagrams settling on a courtyard scheme expressed by a creative arrangement of buildings as objects which define the spaces.   The central space is an oasis, a green space with trees and water, activated by people using the shops, restaurants, bars, and other retail businesses. The courtyard is partially ringed by a ground-level arcade and contemporary storefronts, and a near-continuous second-level balcony above for circulation, offering a variety of social and commercial activities with great views for people watching in the courtyard, stage events, as well as the western horizon and surrounding cityscape.

The sustainability goals are to capture as much solar energy as possible with rooftop photovoltaics, which double as shade for people and buildings, lowering summer a/c costs.

An underground cistern is designed to capture and store rainwater to meet all the project’s irrigation needs, evaporative cooler demand, as well as addressing stormwater detention requirements.  It may also act as a business incubator for the hospitality sector.

This project has the potential for making Prescott an entertainment destination.  It’s not just a cool outdoor music venue but a year-round must-see attraction and a huge asset for the city and region.  It is good quality urban redevelopment like this that local leadership is looking for to reinvigorate underutilized urban real estate. It drives tourism, increases foot traffic, and gives local families a much-needed, fun social place that also attracts local and world-class performers.

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