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Musical bench, 'apple boxes,' twinkle-light trees all added to Tigard site on Burnham Street

COURTESY PHOTO: LAUREN SCOTT/CITY OF TIGARD - Crews work installing twinkle light trees at Universal Plaza on Burham Street. There are now three of the 13-foot-tall trees that are illuminated during the holidays.Although actual construction of Tigard's Universal Plaza is still on the horizon, the space it occupies has added numerous interactive elements recently, including a musical bench, artist-created seating and twinkle-light trees.

The plaza off Southwest Burnham Street recently received a "musical bench" created by artist Jill Toberson. The bench has three main parts, with chimes as a musical element. It's part of a countywide project spearheaded by Tualatin Valley Creates.

Lauren Scott, Tigard's community engagement coordinator, said of the bench, "It's pretty cool. There are different colors and they each make different sounds."

The musical bench is on loan to the plaza until spring of next year and then will be moved to a different location in downtown Tigard.

The plaza sits on 1.8 acres of city-owned property on the former location of Ferguson Plumbing.

Also added to the site is "apple box" seating, wooden boxes traditionally used by film crews to prop up pieces of equipment.

Scott estimated there are probably 30 of the boxes in a variety of different sizes that allow plaza-users to make different seating arrangements. It was created by model-maker and fabricator Asami Morita.

Scott said the public is welcome to move the seating around, noting that someone recently made a slide out of the boxes.

Not only do the boxes provide something for the public to entertain themselves during construction, but Scott said the city is interested to see where those boxes are moved, something that could help inform designers about possible seating locations at the plaza.

Just what will be placed in the plaza is still in the works with a design committee, which held a second virtual meeting earlier this month specifically to discuss a planned water feature at the site.

"We knew going into this that there would be a splashpad or a water feature of some type," said Scott, noting the city is listening to see what type of feature should be built there. "That's what we heard from the community over and over again."

A third meeting will be held in February to iron out the specific details of what should be incorporated at Universal Plaza.COURTESY PHOTO: LAUREN SCOTT/CITY OF TIGARD - A young girl checks out the interactive activities available at the soon-to-be-constructed Universal Plaza.

"The design team is continually doing a schematic," said Scott. "We hear from the community and the design advisors and then they update it."

Once details are nailed down, the city is looking at 2022 to begin construction of the project, which is expected to last six months.

The plaza will also hook up to the nearby Fanno Creek Trail located behind it.

"Part of what we heard from the community (was) they wanted an extended trail, so we're going to build that out," said Scott.

The city has also added three 13-foot-tall trees, all made out of twinkle lights, for the holidays. They are turned on nightly.

"We also have scaffolding up at the site for this large public art installation called 'Beacon' that will ... have scaffolding on it through the holidays," said Scott.

Plans are to add fabric to it in January and to create a tunnel people can walk through. COURTESY PHOTO: LAUREN SCOTT/CITY OF TIGARD - Artist Jill Toberson helps install a musical bench at Universal Plaza on Tigards Burham Street.

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