City planners and architects from the University of Cuenca presented what they claim is the final design for a rejuvenated San Francisco Plaza on Tuesday. Construction begins in November, they say.
“At this point there will be no more big changes,” says Paul Barzallo, Director of Cuenca’s Historical Areas Committee. “We are working with vendors to make adjustment to the sales stations but this will not affect the overall look of the design.”
The latest design adds planted and potted trees along the perimeter of the plaza, moves sales kiosks to the sides and includes a central fountain. Following discussions with vendors, most of the kiosks will be permanent under new the plan. “By moving them to the sides of the square, we now have the space for public events that we didn’t have before,” Barzallo says. “In the other plans, the portable sales stations was the major objection of vendors.” There will be a total of 120 sales stations, he says.
Cuenca architect Xavier Flores says he still believes the plaza plan has a “sterile feel” but says the new plan is an improvement over the previous one. “There is still a large expanse of concrete and tile and the fountain in the middle doesn’t do much to help,” he says. “On the other hand, elements like green areas and more seating can be added in the future. It’s probably the best we can do at this late date.” Flores worked on two previous plaza designs and has been a consultant to UNESCO.
The latest plan includes public restrooms in the Pasaje León building and Cemuart, on the south and west sides of the plaza.
Because of funding deadlines, Mayor Marcelo Cabrera said bidding for construction, parking lots and renovation of two adjacent buildings will begin within the a matter of weeks, with construction starting in early November.
The plaza itself is only a small part of the overall project, which has an estimated cost of one million dollars. Most of the $6 million budget goes to building renovation and parking areas, of which almost $2 million has already been spent on Pasaje León and Casa Ullauri. According to Cabrera, all funds for the project are “in the bank.”
To see three videos of the new plan in El Tiempo, click here. Below are “before” and “after” views of the plaza.
To see a longer video, containing information about the surrounding streets in El Mercurio, click here.