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Celebrating Terre Haute's Newest Art Space

On Tuesday Mary 17, 2022, the first phase of the Turn to the River project was dedicated at a public ribbon cutting. The ‘Celebrate Room’ provides a fitting formal backdrop to the impressive governmental structures.

In early 2018, Wabash Valley Art Spaces developed the Turn to the River project as an initiative to reconnect the city’s downtown with the Wabash River through the use of art and design. In collaboration with the City of Terre Haute and Vigo County, this project serves to re-envision what the central civic space of the community can be, and provide the missing link – a physical connection to the Wabash River.

The Turn to the River project is a dynamic vision for the Terre Haute community. The overall design creates a regional destination that celebrates the iconic Wabash River in a way that doesn’t currently exist in Indiana. The new civic space stands to become a more regional destination – both literally and figuratively – with uses that will engage more residents and visitors. Ultimately, this type of public investment elevates the quality of life within the community and could leverage additional investment and improvement initiatives along the Wabash River.

Following an extensive site inventory and analysis as well as the facilitation of stakeholder and community conversations led to the development of four primary goals for the project. These goals include: 1. Create an ICONIC DESTINATION for residents and visitors; 2. Improve CONNECTIVITY from downtown Terre Haute to the Wabash River; 3) Celebrate the unique CULTURE and HISTORY through ART and design, and 4) Attract additional INVESTMENT to the Wabash Riverfront. This project will serve as an opportunity to enhance the community’s “front door” while strengthening and promoting the local identity of the region.

The final design needed to accommodate daily uses surrounding the government campus, which includes parking, security, and ceremonial space. New programming desires, such as accommodation for the local farmers market, seasonal events/festivals, and interpretive art amenities, were also desired for the site. Finally, there is the need to provide a strong link to the river and to celebrate that asset with a design feature that can be interpreted as an artistic expression.

The design team took their cue from the river, using the water droplet as inspiration for creating forms that shaped the various programmed use spaces. The “ripple” from the water droplet was interpreted to influence much of the site circulation and began to define a series of “rooms.” These rooms provide a series of different spaces that can be programmed in a variety of ways, each allowing specific functions requested by the client and community to be accommodated on the site.

On Tuesday Mary 17, 2022, the first phase of the Turn to the River project was dedicated at a public ribbon cutting. The ‘Celebrate Room’ provides a fitting formal backdrop to the impressive governmental structures. This space, between the Terre Haute City Hall and Vigo County Courthouse, is intended to accommodate formal gatherings, and small receptions and be a backdrop to civic service. A central element in the room is the desire for the use of both a water feature and signature art installation provided by Brad and Diana Goldberg.

We were happy to help Art Spaces, the City of Terre Haute and Vigo County celebrate the completion of this first phase of work. Also, a huge thank you to Brad Goldberg for providing us with the images below.

We look forward to future phases including the following rooms:

  • Source Room: The Source Room provides a fitting “welcome” to the governmental campus and features a sweeping walk that guides residents and visitors from the adjacent downtown and Indiana State University Campus into the project site. A highlight of the walk is the interpretive art wall that will contain a series of panels with interpretive storytelling, a historic timeline, and interactive features. This room also serves as the entrance to the Promenade – the central corridor that re-creates the historic Wabash Avenue in the form of a pedestrian-friendly plaza. The materials and amenities along the promenade are intended to evoke a sense of movement and provide a visual as well as a physical link to the riverfront.

  • Reflect Room: Currently on site is a series of memorials and tributes to various individuals, public safety members, and organizations. It is the intent of the Reflect Room to organize and honor those memorials and monuments within a grove of trees on the south side of the project site, adjacent to City Hall. This area will feature smaller, more intimate gathering spaces for smaller group activities, employee lunch, and quiet reflection in a more garden-like scale and setting.

  • Gather Room: The Gather Room provides new programming opportunities within the site and features events, festivals, food trucks, and a weekly farmers market all the while still accommodating the daily parking needs for employees and visitors to the site. The amenities in the Gather Room include flexible seating options, a green infrastructure/stormwater management system, and covered event pergolas to further extend the programming options of the site. This space also provides an opportunity to provide a connection along 1st Street to Indiana State University to the north and Fairbanks Park to the south via a pedestrian boulevard and bike lane.

  • Nest Room: Rising out of the earth surrounded by mounds, the final room provides a terminus to the promenade and creates a space to reflect on the idea of co-existence between the natural river corridor and the built environment. This room reflects both the past and present, capturing the spirit of the natural beauty within the man-made context of the city. The Nest Room features an opening in the tree canopy with a cantilevered walkway, giving way to views of the river to the west and downtown Terre Haute to the east. Being elevated on top of the existing floodway protection wall, the overlook will act as a nest, accessible by a sloped walk atop two gently sloping earth mounds supported by variegated limestone. Centered within the nest will be areas for gathering, interpretive art, and community space that celebrate the past, present, and future of Terre Haute and the community’s relationship with the river.


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