Phoenix Park - Eau Claire

Since the early 2000s, The City of Eau Claire has been redeveloping the downtown area and at the heart of those plans is Phoenix Park. It is named for the historic site of the former Phoenix Steel company that once had operations there along with Northern States Power Company. The City planned the park and surrounding residential and commercial developments to take advantage of the picturesque confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers. The park was a catalyst to encourage more downtown development and since beginning the project several corporate headquarters facilities and residential apartment buildings have been constructed and numerous gentrification projects have taken place in the surrounding neighborhoods.

During the planning process, the City of Eau Claire worked with a landscape architecture firm and also worked with SDS Architects on the design of the two structures on the site, the Trailhead Building and the Farmers Market structure. The Trailhead building consists of 2,500 square feet and includes public restrooms, drinking fountains, bike racks, and visitor information. It is a trailhead for the Chippewa River State Trail, a primarily paved recreational trail which spans more than 20 miles along the Chippewa River to Durand. The facility was designed specifically to reflect the architecture that originally existed in Eau Claire's northern downtown district during the heyday of the lumbering days of the community's history.

The Farmers Market structure is located at the north end of the park and was designed to be aesthetically pleasing and also to prevent any rain-outs or event cancellation because of the weather. The structure provides over 10,000 sq. ft. of shelter for market vendors and was carefully designed for vendors to bring in trucks and vans full of fresh produce, flower, meats, and bakery items for sale during designated farmers market hours. The structure includes skylights to allow for plenty of natural light for the vendors and shoppers below.

The park is well used and well known in Eau Claire. Summer concerts drawing large audiences, an abundance of trail users, the popular Farmers Market and a significant number of individuals working in the area account for significant traffic in the park during all seasons. "Working closely with the City to create structures that are beloved, well-used, and very functional right here in our own backyard was a very rewarding project. Each week as we see the many individuals enjoying the spaces we designed we are reminded how important our job is. Not only do we design useful structures, but also structures that can become a centerpiece of a beloved public space," says Tom Twohig of SDS.