In the “good ole days,” Texas towns were built around the central “town square” which was a hub for the community’s activity. The public square was where you would find city hall and in the county seat, also the county courthouse. The public plaza design model created a natural gathering space for community commerce, entertainment, and social interaction. This is where people gathered to shop, do business, send and receive mail, and do many other essential activities.
The advent of suburban sprawl moved us away from public square design in favor of broader streets, strip centers, shopping malls, etc. This type of community design made personal interactions less frequent and made car travel mandatory. More recently, the design community has recognized the inefficiencies and problems sprawling design has created for our cities and citizens. Many architects, engineers, city planners, and real estate developers are making efforts to move communities away from sprawl by embracing many of the design principles that once made small towns so livable, including the central public square or open plaza design.
So why design a community around a central public square or plaza? What are the benefits of this type of community space? Wonderful plazas (such as The Square at Pecan Square by Hillwood in Northlake, TX) include several notable characteristics.
Being right in the center of the community, the public square is convenient. People can get there in just a few minutes, ideally on foot or bicycle. Vehicle traffic should be comparatively low in order to facilitate walkability. The space itself should be easily traversable with plenty of walkways and minimal congestion.
Important services and functions take place at the town square. You might go there to shop at the local community market for groceries or a gift. The public square might be where you take an exercise class. It might be where you and your family go for a fun evening of entertainment. You might go to the public plaza to collect a parcel from the package pickup center, or you might even work there. The town square is many things to many people and when there is a multipurpose space such as a large park or entertainment venue, the possibilities are endless.
The best public squares are designed to be attractive places where people enjoy spending time. Some public squares incorporate green spaces, landscaping, water features, pavilions, and other elements to make them lovely spots where people can relax and enjoy themselves.
Studies show spending time outdoors is linked with improved mental wellbeing and happiness, so it’s always a good idea to incorporate natural spaces into community designs.
Many public plazas have a green space large enough to accommodate live performances, festivals, community markets, impromptu touch football, and other such activities.
One of the best things about a town square is its role as a social venue. Oftentimes, people will meet their neighbors there when there is a planned event such as a concert, neighborhood picnic, or community market. Other times, friendships are born spontaneously. That’s because people just naturally congregate there, whether it’s to go to work, run an errand, pick up a package, kick a soccer ball, or just enjoy some nice weather. Neighbors see each other and conversations start. In this way, the town square is the catalyst for building new and continuing relationships.
Pecan Square by Hillwood located in Northlake, TX was planned around a central town square design to be all these things to the community, and more. Our central hub—The Square—is a plaza where neighbors can work, play, meet, shop, exercise, relax, and connect with friends just minutes from home. Homeowners can come to The Square to play games in Jackson Hall, work in the Greeting House, collect a package at the Post and Parcel, hang out at the Arena, or simply relax on the lawn.
Pecan Square residents can enjoy many of the current amenities at or near The Square (with more to come soon!):
In addition to these state-of-the-art amenities, our award-winning Lifestyle Manager plans more than 300 activities per year for Pecan Square residents to enjoy, many of which take place at The Square. Some examples include:
There really is something for everyone to enjoy at The Square!
If Pecan Square sounds like the type of master-planned community you’ve been looking for, take a virtual tour or drop by the Greeting House for a personal tour! You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the tall pecan trees that line the road to The Square. See you soon!