In 1989 Miller Plaza in the heart of downtown Chattanooga won an American Institute of Architects award for its design excellence in the public realm. It was both a symbol of the city’s commitment to the quality of the public realm and a sign of more improvements to come. Miller Plaza and the adjacent Miller Park and Patten Parkway together form the primary downtown public spaces. Each has its own character and host a variety of uses from casual and serendipitous, to those marked by large gatherings and entertainment. In 2015 the City of Chattanooga launched a public design process to upgrade features of all three parks. This $1.2 million set of improvements, beginning construction in summer 2016, will set a standard for park use for the next generations of downtown residents, workers and visitors.
In addition to the parks, the streets and sidewalks form the unifying structure of the Innovation District and downtown as a whole. The districts streets are walkable, pleasant and well connected. Other features of the area and the activities that enliven it are highlighted below.
Multimodality. The innovation district is among the most well connected areas of the city. It features wide sidewalks allowing for outdoor dining, public art and seating areas, numerous stations of the city’s bike share program, Bikelanes, CARTA bus service and the free downtown electric shuttle. The area is served by well-spaced parking lots and garages and on-street parking.
Public Art. Chattanooga has a robust and acclaimed public art program that features permanent and rotating pieces throughout the district, including the largest mural in the Southeast and the first painted mural to wrap an entire city block. It represents the past, present and future vision for Chattanooga and is a tribute to the rich culture of the African-American community that long anchored the M.L. King Boulevard in the district.
Nightfall. For 28 years, this free Friday night concert series has provided a five month program of diverse, quality entertainment in Miller Plaza and an exceptional family friendly urban experience for locals and visitors alike.
River City Company, the city’s downtown development non-profit programs a wide variety of offerings during the week in Miller Plaza including a Wednesday noon concert by a local artist in Waterhouse Pavilion, pop-up market, City Sweat – an exercise program, and a monthly community co-working and start up speaker series called Basecamp.