Concordia University - Holthus Family Plaza

Concordia University - Holthus Family Plaza

The Clark Enersen Partners has provided Campus Master Planning Services for Concordia University for more than 20 years, including consideration of site and landscape improvements. We also have planned and designed landscape for many of our building and renovation projects on campus.

We recently completed Holthus Plaza which is located between the Janzow Campus Center and Thom Leadership Education Center. Once utilized as College Avenue, but now closed off for pedestrian use, this new gathering space now servies as their signature outdoor space on campus. Two important campus buildings that contribute to the “Concordia experience” face the space, which is along a major visual axis that connects housing, athletics, and academic campus uses. This axis is further strengthened by the plaza’s design.

The new plaza completes the closing of College Avenue, strengthens the drop-off area to the west and creates a new drop-off area to the east, usable for functions at Janzow. In total, the gathering space consists of three plazas that step down with the existing topography. The plazas are ADA compliant, with ramps replacing stairs. Many existing trees were saved, and new trees were planted to strengthen the ‘greenway’ that flanks the space. New trees were also planted in the created green space just east of the plazas. Janzow’s canopy and a retaining wall were removed to create an indoor/outdoor visual connection from the interior, and in their place a natural amphitheater was created.

Thematic elements support Concordia’s focus on learning, service, and leadership. The lowest plaza features a learning-themed art piece. The next plaza includes a mural or art wall that honors the act of serving. The upper plaza incorporates themes of leadership including, as a focal point, a basin-less water feature with three jets representing the Holy Trinity. This feature becomes a ribbon that flows symbolically down through the Leadership, Service, and Learning plazas. At first, the ribbon is represented as different colored pavement. It then becomes a turf amphitheater and informal gathering space, with natural stone outcroppings for seating.