Centerway Square

Market Street at Pine Street
Corning, NY

Submitted by: Dave Young

A unique urban plaza in a historic downtown district, with a restored clock tower as the focal point.

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Why It Works

This unique space is located in the historic district of the small Upstate NY city of Corning. Adjacent to historic Market St., it is one block deep and was conceived following the closure of vehicular traffic on Pine St. in 1988. Brick pavers and bandstand awnings match surrounding buildings. The center-piece (restored historic) clock tower was included in the design as a focal point. The covered stage is complete with a sound system and handicapped access. There are benches, cafe seating areas, and honey locust trees for shade.

The center of the space is open for emergency vehicle access and provides a great location for seasonal activities including everything from a Christmas glass house to NASCAR displays and arts festivals. The city’s visitor center faces the square, which connects Market Street to a pedestrian bridge over the Chemung River and a walkway to the Corning Museum of Glass. Across the street is a (Dan Kyle) designed park.

The plaza design used wrought iron for the stage, railings and signs with period lighting and furniture. Currently, as a demonstration of the local pride for the space, and its heavy use, it is undergoing a major maintenance program, which includes resetting brick, adding memorial bricks, replacement of deteriorated furniture, repainting, and cleaning.

What Makes Centerway Square a Great Place?

It is a continuation of the Market Street brick paving, providing access to the Corporate HQ of Corning Inc. parking ramps, the Corning Museum of Glass, the riverfront park, and at grade parking. A bus stop is visually and physically connected through careful design of pavements and streetscape elements to match the plaza. Shoppers and office workers traverse the space to and from work, and it is often full of people enjoying lunch or an evening concert.

It has tremendous curb appeal. The openness of the space with its clear lines of sight make it feel safe. There are a variety of seating options including benches and tables with chairs. It is very well maintained and cleaned every day. Users are well insulated from Market Street and alley traffic. Due to the small scale of Market Street, traffic is very slow, which helps maintain the ambiance. There is always a good mix of young and old, and men and women.

The space has a dedicated staff that program activities year around. They range from arts festivals to NASCAR displays. There are activities at the bandstand during lunch and often in the evening. All of the space is well used and is considered a community asset.

The space is generally used by groups of people sitting and talking, or eating lunch. Tourists often get their ice cream in the adjacent shop and sit in the square to enjoy it. There are of course single users, sometimes reading or enjoying a cup of coffee. The local pride is evident in the care given to the space.

When renovations were started, we had to move the tables and chairs to locations where people could sit and watch the activity. There were articles in the paper with people concerned that the space was being removed or altered. There have been two upgrade projects at the square, which included adding more electrical service and repairing/upgrading the sound system – a good sign that the use and interest is strong.

History & Background

This space is a good example of a small town where good design and community pride are important aspects of life. It represents how a private corporation (Corning Inc.) and a municipal government (City of Corning) can work together to create a great place not only to visit, but also to live.

Contact Info:

Patrick Flynn, (607)-937-6292 x103) or David Young, ASLA (607)656-9781

Related Links:

  • Corning's Gaffer District - Please take a look at the web site which has some photos of the space, and lots of information about programing.

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