The heart of Savannah, GA is its squares. Known as the living rooms of the city, these parks create a grid of comfortable social spaces. As the oldest planned city in America, Savannah's squares represent a tradition of unity and brotherhood.
But that unity was disrupted when 3 squares were removed in 1935 for a highway, dividing the city like a wall and interrupting the grid of squares. Urban Jewel restores one of those squares as a modern, interactive gathering space that extends over the road like a pedestrian bridge. High above the city, Urban Jewel's Home Fire burns brighter with each person who enters the square. Step into Urban Jewel and add your light for all to see.
Share your light, and shine brighter together...
"The squares are the jewels of Savannah"
Introduced by Savannah's founder James Oglethorpe at the city's founding in 1733, the squares are the city's most popular attraction. Savannah is credited for being the first planned city in America, and is considered a perfect example of urban design. But the Oglethorpe Plan was damaged in the 20th century when three significant squares were removed to build a highway, and later, an event space.
The City of Savannah is already committed to restoring the square and bringing new function to the site. In June 2019, the city council voted to demolish the Civic Center and create green space in accordance with the Oglethorpe Plan. Urban Jewel restores the square and elevates it over the existing road to bring back pedestrian flow without interrupting traffic.
Highway and Civic Center
Creating Social Unity in the Squares
Colonial Settlement to Today
Savannah's history creates a precedent of unity and harmony. The colonial settlement was one of very few that celebrated peace and good relations with the Yamacraw Native Americans who settled the Savannah Bluff. The settlement was uncommonly diverse, celebrating racial diversity and religious freedom when it was formed in 1733.
The harmony of the past offers an inspiring vision of unity between groups who share Savannah today. Urban Jewel creates unity through interactive and sensory elements placed along the main path. Each area of the park encourages social interaction in a different way. These areas honor the traditions of the Yamacraw, such as
the reinterpreted ceremonial Home Fire that burns in the square.
Path of Light
Journey from Separation to Unity
Urban Jewel is brought to life by translucent concrete, which transitions guests from an opaque material to a clear one as they journey from separation to unity. This material has a running matrix of fiber optic wire, allowing light to transmit through it.
Urban Jewel can then use light as a material of its own. On the Path of Light, sunlight creates shadows of other people. LED mesh can illuminate to create light when you interact with it. At the Prism Well, a screen behind the concrete creates the imagery that appears on the front of the wall.
Path of Light
fiber optic wire
Storytelling with Sunlight
While traditional squares in Savannah filter light through a canopy of oak trees, Urban Jewel is shaded by a woven canopy full of patterns that create intricate shadows on the ground. This canopy is a tensile system held up by steel supports. Each support is connected with structural cables, with panels of non-structural weaving hanging between them. The weave is covered with a weatherproof fabric that can be removed if needed.
Click on a target to see the canopy's shadow
click each character to explore their portfolio
Meet the Team
Production Design, Team Leader
User Experience Design
Note: This project was conceived by team Urban Jewel of the Savannah College of Art and Design and created for the 2020 Walt Disney Imagineering’s Imaginations Design Competition. This project is the sole property of Walt Disney Imagineering and all rights to use these ideas are exclusive to Walt Disney Imagineering. The competition is a way for students and recent graduates to showcase their talents, and for Walt Disney Imagineering to identify new talent.