The Bazaar at Railroad Park
It was 1955 and my father, a rambunctious 7 year old, waited anxiously for my grandfather's train to arrive. Unable to contain his excitement and the overwhelming feeling of being in such a magnificent place, my dad would slip his hand out of my grandmother's to climb over the heavy dark brown benches and listened as his voice echoed throughout the enormous structure.
In those days, the Birmingham Terminal Station was the merging point for businessmen and families welcoming them home. With its Byzantine design of high arches, marble floors and two 130-foot towers, the structure of the station was also iconic for the Magic City and its industry. Today, this station no longer exists, but the vibrant and energetic community of Birmingham lives on. Designing the Prize Site inspired by the Birmingham Terminal Station but with a modern and cool twist is truly a wonderful way to highlight Birmingham's history and provide a modern space where families, visitors, medical personnel and business people alike can come together in the heart of the city.
The Bazaar at Railroad Park is a site that features the best of the South, creating a home in Birmingham for mom and pop stores that today sell their products in Mobile, baristas who today brew their legendary coffee in Macon, candy shops that today sell sweets along the river in Savannah, or a restaurant who today serves only a clientele in Memphis. The Bazaar will be a vibrant epicenter, alive with both history and the contemporary community.
But beyond shops and restaurants, the Bazaar will be a center for learning, where visitors will use Apple store-like technology to understand the rich history of the Magic City, from civil rights, to business, the medical community, sports and the arts. The green space across the street will be complemented by the sustainable technology used in the Bazaar making the overall experience as inspiring as it is enjoyable.
The Bazaar at Railroad Park: Where Birmingham's Rich History Meets Today's Modern and Vibrant Southern Community
|THE COOL FACTOR
The Bazaar at Railroad Park is a place full of energy and buzz. This eclectic market is the only place in Birmingham where the city's rich history converges with its vibrant, diverse and modern community. The Bazaar would house fabulous restaurants, coffee shops and mom and pop vendors which will attract young and old and locals and visitors alike. Bringing in these unique vendors will not only make the city cool and vibrant, but will also bring new talent and ideas to Birmingham. The process of creating the blueprint will even be cool as it will require the collaboration of architectural historians, experts in modern and green building design, urban planners and even restaurateurs.
The experience at the Bazaar is as fun and cool as it is social and educational. It will mix a European feel with the comfortable southern charm and environmentally friendly lifestyle. People can benefit from the Apple-esque historical areas where iPad technology provides an exciting way to learn about the city. Just as the railroad tracks merged in this location years ago, so will people from different walks of life, enjoying the unique building and services available inside.
The Bazaar at Railroad Park will naturally complement Railroad Park and the Sloss Corridor through its design and the services provided.
Railroad Park will encourage sustainable living, and so the design of the building should meet environmental specifications. Whether it's in the form of solar panels or a green rooftop, the building will minimize its use of energy, and inspire the residents of Birmingham to build, live and work in a "green" and sustainable way.
With regards to sustainability, the idea is sustainable as people will continue to socialize, eat, drink and meet up friends and family to just relax. The vendors could change throughout the years to meet the needs/wants of the people but the concept will remain. Another way the idea is sustainable is in the structure itself. As mentioned previously, the building will be constructed to include aspects of sustainability and energy efficiency.
If you open a Lonely Planet or Let's Go travel book, writers usually highlight a central marketplace as a "must see" location. After living abroad and traveling around the world, I realize that often the vibrant epicenters of these cities are the markets or bazaars. Always attracting locals and visitors alike, these markets draw in people of all ages, with diverse interests, and from all type of cultures and backgrounds. In the US, we have Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, Seattle's Pike Place Market and San Fran's Ferry Building market, all of which attract outside businesses, thousands of visitors and locals that come every week.
The Bazaar will have a magnetic quality because of its architectural design and also due to the social engagement found in the various food and drinks available as well as the intriguing historical areas. While the Bazaar will bring in money for Railroad Park, it does not require high costs to its visitors. This Birmingham destination will be a place where families and friends can come back time and again for an enjoyable day at an affordable price.
The Bazaar at Railroad Park attracts families, visitors, medical professionals on their lunch hour and even UAB students taking a break from intense studies. People always return here as it is the perfect spot to grab a bite, catch up with a friend or refuel your energy with a coffee. Visitors of all backgrounds will feel the convergence of history with modern life in the city of Birmingham.
Going to the University of Michigan, I was the first person from Alabama that most of my friends had met. Many were unfamiliar with the South, and I always described my home town and culture with much pride. The Bazaar would be the ideal place to show off to visitors as it displays the perfect mix of history, pride, fun and social activity that encompasses the city of Birmingham. The restaurants and vendors will be appealing to all and a perfect stop before going to Railroad Park or after spending time at Sloss Furnace or museums in the