The City has posted frightening concept drawings of the under-construction downtown plaza on its Facebook page.

Visitors to the page are not surprisingly expressing unhappiness: comments include “looks like concentration camp fences”, “Looks weird,” and “You have to be kidding. They are hideous. Please, please stop these things.”

Someone with a sick sense of humour has called these photos “shade trees 12th Avenue.” I have named them something else.

There is no joy in Mudville.

Prairie dog has been and continues to be a big supporter of the downtown redesign but this drawing makes the plaza looks like a prison yard. They’re a PR disaster at best and evidence of inept architects destroying part of our downtown at worst.

But is 12th Ave. doomed?  I don’t think so. He said nervously.

My guess is, this is not artwork created with public viewing in mind–it’s meant to show the physical layout to planners and professionals, not give a sense of what it will be like to actually walk around in the plaza. I think this because the drawings don’t show important context. They don’t show the people, the banners, the vendors, the nearby park or anything that would humanize the space.

But they WOULD be useful for anyone planning out bench placement, public art, re-introduction of limited greenery or events in the plaza.

And so my hope is they’re just misused concept drawings that mislead by not providing a realistic indication of what the final space will look like.

(I HOPE they’re just bad drawings and that the final plaza won’t really have a concrete apocalypse feel.)

So I say: don’t panic. Yet.

Still, no one with eyes could like this. Is sharing these just someone’s innocent error in judgment? Or is someone at  the City trying to sabotage support for its own project? And if so, whu?!? Or is someone trying to alert the public to City planning gone berserk? Get people riled up and demanding the City does a better job with the brown… whatever they are, construction-site girders, and the things that look like razor-wire fences.

I guess we’ll see. But right now I don’t understand.