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UC Planning Alum Creates Winning Design for Indianapolis’ Monument Circle

Young alum Greg Meckstroth recently won a competition to redesign Indianapolis’ Monument Circle, a gathering point at the city center not unlike Cincinnati’s Fountain Square.

Date: 7/31/2011
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Greg Meckstroth

A “People’s Choice” vote recently picked an entry by University of Cincinnati planning graduate Greg Meckstroth, 26, in the ongoing effort to redesign and re-envision Indianapolis’ city center, a plaza called Monument Circle.
Perspective of how Monument Circle could be enlivened.
UC alum Greg Meckstroth won a competition to improve Indianapolis' Monument Circle. He envisions added life and vitality to the plaza.

About 800 central Indiana residents selected Meckstroth’s proposal titled “Square One: A Monument Circle Vision.” The win has earned a $1,000 prize for Meckstroth, a 2009 master’s in community planning graduate from UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP).

In his design proposal, Meckstroth, formerly of Harrison, Ohio, but recently relocated to work as an urban designer in Philadelphia for WRT Design, retained the current design of the Circle but suggest adding life and vitality by means of  first-floor business development/storefronts, green space, moveable and fixed chairs, and more.

“Currently,” he explains, “There not much by way of activity, pedestrians, people or retail near the Circle, which does contain a very large memorial. I focused on activating the space by means of retail, galleries, outdoor seating, increased density and green space. It’s necessary to give people a good reason to come to the space.”

Importantly, his plan calls for a phased approach in implementing improvements. It’s easier for the municipality to find the resources to enact progress if the improvements can be phased in over time.
Perspective of how Monument Circle could be enlivened.

Meckstroth’s success was probably helped by the fact that he knows the space well since he passed through Monument Circle almost daily for the past two years. After graduating from UC in 2009, he went to work full time in Indianapolis for a former cooperative education employer, RW Armstrong, a global engineering consulting firm, before very recently relocating to Philadelphia.

Recalls Meckstroth, “Since I was so familiar with the space, it was easy for me to ask:  How could this space be better.”

Still, completing the proposal was a challenge since he worked on it only in the evenings while transitioning to his new job.

“I wanted to do the proposal for me, to set a goal and to complete the goal. I worked on it every single night for a month. And now, the best part of winning is the sense that my ideas have legitimacy among outside audiences, some of whom are no doubt tough critics,” he adds.

Even though Meckstroth’s design won the Monument Circle contest, it’s unlikely to be implemented precisely as proposed. The ideas presented in the competition are now with a team in Indianapolis’ Department of Public Works. That team will make three recommendations by fall, and those recommendations may or may not include elements from the public contest.