Chattanooga Gives A Popular Gathering Spot A Makeover

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - by Aislinn Kotifani

Chattanooga wanted to improve access to high-quality outdoor spaces that made residents of all ages feel safe, secure, welcome, and connected. In 2019, Chattanooga was named one of the winning cities of the Made to Move grant by Degree and Blue Zones, giving an additional boost to their foundational work.

The area surrounding Patten Towers, at Georgia Avenue and Market Street, was designated as a social hub, even with its modest benches and a few trees. 

Using a community-driven design process, Chattanooga Design Studio and Enterprise Center in collaboration with Gehl Studio and local stakeholders gathered feedback to incorporate into a design that would encourage residents to rest, relax, move, and meet, positively impacting overall well-being for all.

Community members imagined more color, greenery, safety from vehicles, play features for family, versatile seating options, shade, and places for games. 

“As COVID has shifted our perspective on engaging and coming together with other people, we see even more value in providing the community with a safe and adaptable outdoor space to get outside in a socially responsible way and enjoy our beautiful city,” said Beverly Bell from Chattanooga Design Studio.

Local rising artists installed the new colorful sidewalk and asphalt paint with the help of community volunteers. With flexible seating options, vibrant sculptural swings, landscape planters, and even a payphone for calling friends and family, the public space is now a popular meeting place, desirable event hosting and birthday party locale, and a “hotspot” for selfies, bringing new faces to the area.

This project has also brought an influx of new customers to the local Bingo’s Market, resulting in a 125 percent increase to their daily sales.

“We really enjoy it," said Thelma Holland, a Patten Towers resident. "Everybody can connect with each other and communicate with each other better than it was at first. Nobody has to be scared to walk through here or come down here because this space is for everybody."

The creation of this public space was stewarded by a collaborative partnership between Chattanooga Design Studio, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga, the Chattanooga Department of Transportation, the Chattanooga Public Library, the Enterprise Center, and Patten Towers. The project was made possible with funding from the city of Chattanooga and from the Degree Deodorant and Blue Zones Made to Move Grant Program, an innovative effort to help communities build healthier environments. Degree and Blue Zones believe that everyone should be free to move because movement has the power to transform lives. It is committed to improving access to spaces for physical activity in communities across America.

Read the Case Study


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