Pepper Place Market is working with an internationally renowned architectural firm to create a permanent pavilion that would eventually be the centerpiece of Birmingham’s open-air market.
The nonprofit, after a period of quiet fundraising and planning, could announce a final design next year and begin construction which is expected to be completed by 2023.
“We wanted to imagine something that would make it a little more permanent, to allow us to put a stake in the ground,” said Cathy Sloss Jones, president and CEO of Sloss Real Estate. In 2000 Jones was one of the founders of the Farmer’s Market.
“The question was, how do we become self-reliant? she said. “How do you create something beautiful that marks the market? “
A Birmingham city center institution, The Market at Pepper Place draws thousands of people on weekends with a mix of farm-fresh produce, baked goods and local crafts. The pedestrian atmosphere, enriched with live music and cooking demonstrations, has developed tremendously over the past two decades. It underwent a makeover during its 20th birthday, switching to a curb delivery model to deal with the pandemic.
But before COVID-19 arrived, Jones said planning had started for something that “would keep the farmer’s market going for another 20 to 40 years.”
They turned to MASS – Model of Architecture Serving Society – a group featured on Sunday on “60 Minutes” perhaps best known in Alabama for their work on the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery. . MASS Design Group has also designed projects in Rwanda, Malawi, Haiti and other locations.
Jones had previously met MASS Executive Director Michael Murphy, and she approached him about a possible permanent project for the Pepper Place Market that would not only showcase the site, but be another element of the scene. Birmingham culinary. It would also partially eliminate the need to set up and take down 100 tents every Saturday.
“The idea of the pavilion is that we would build this beautiful structure that would be the center of the market on Saturday,” Jones said. “On other days it could be rented out for other events.
The answer is a pocket park anchored in an open-air market pavilion. Jones said the structure will be located between South First and Second Avenue and connect Pepper Place to Jones Valley Trail. The exact position is still being worked out.
The pavilion would allow events all year round, with a design comprised of locally sourced and manufactured wooden tiles and beams, meant to echo the thoughtful consideration of ingredients in “slow food”. Glass walls and folding doors would create a transparent enclosure. Vendors would be inside and outside, with the pavilion hosting cooking demonstrations and events, and providing washrooms.
The pocket park would surround the area, with space for outdoor vendors and the permanent street side market.
Jones said the design and price of the project was still under development, but a final version of the plan could be ready in the first quarter of next year.
“We would like to innovate in 2022 and be operational in 2023,” she said.