Winning designs from Boulder's Civic Area Ideas Competition

Transforming Canyon Boulevard into the wide, tree-lined street its name implies and incorporating an amphitheater, museum and treehouse café into the open area along the Boulder Creek are some of the features of the winning project in the city's Civic Area Ideas Competition.

Team "Sunday in the Park" was made up of Boulder architect Deborah Yin and architectural designer and planner Julie Husband, as well as Husband's spouse Carl Stewart, a Boulder native and University of Colorado library administrator with experience in emergency management and the arts.

Yin said the most challenging aspect of the project was accommodating the Boulder Creek flood plain, but that presented an opportunity to expand the open space and park land.

Yin said she envisioned Boulder's Central Park tying together the city in the same way New York City's Central Park ties together Manhattan.

The grand prize for a "vision" for Boulder's Civic Area, which stretches from Ninth to 17th streets between Arapahoe Avenue and Canyon, was just one of several honors awarded at a ceremony Tuesday night at the Boulder Public Library.

More than 40 teams submitted projects for the ideas competition, which was divided between "vision" projects to generate concept plans for the entire area and "catalyst" projects, discreet ideas that could be completed in the next two to four years and help stimulate additional development in the area.

The City Council has made coming up with a master plan for the area one of its top priorities. The master plan is supposed to recognize the historical and cultural significance of the area while also addressing safety concerns about flooding and providing new civic amenities. City leaders have said they will preserve treasured institutions such as the Boulder Farmer's Market, but they may be redesigned.

Boulder senior urban designer Sam Assefa, who is co-managing the Civic Area project, said none of the submitted projects will be adopted wholesale. Rather, city planners will work with the community and the City Council to develop three or four distinct plans that incorporate the most desirable elements of the winning projects.

The City Council will take up the Civic Area Master Plan again in March to provide feedback to planners. Assefa said there will be more opportunities for public comment and feedback through the summer, with the City Council expected to formally adopt a Civic Area Master Plan in August.

"This jury worked on ideas, not projects, not a single plan, but the ideas that we thought might transform the space -- not just now, but for years in the future," said Ed Blakely, an honorary professor in urban policy and disaster recovery at the University of Sydney in Australia, who chaired the eight-person jury. "Don't think you're going to get one shining idea from one project, but many great ideas from these projects."

Four other projects were recognized in the vision category:

A Civic Experience for a Creative City, which included a greenhouse, senior living, a community wellness center and an eco-tech business district, was recognized for its creative mix of land uses.

Boulder Civic Center Vision, which included museums and a performing arts center, was recognized for transformative placemaking.

Civic Area Vision Project, which greatly expanded the park area and included opportunities for water harvesting, was recognized for how it addressed environmental and flood issues.

Civic Art, which consolidated municipal functions in the northeast part of the Civic Area, was recognized for how it addressed civic facilities and functions.

The winner in the catalyst category was Cultivate, Educate, Celebrate, which includes a variety of interactive play and educational areas with environmental and historical themes. Those include an urban community garden, a play area with a mining theme, a rock climbing area, a weather station and a xeric demonstration garden.

The jury selected this project as the catalyst winner for its potential to draw families to the area, its compatibility with existing uses and its adaptability to future uses for the area.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or