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Waterside Festival Marketplace

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1981–1983, 1988–1990, Wallace, Robertson and Todd. 333 Waterside Dr.
  • Waterside Festival Marketplace (Jason R. Waicunas)
  • Waterside Festival Marketplace (Richard Guy Wilson)

During the 1970s and early 1980s James W. Rouse virtually reinvented the American downtown, developing a string of festival marketplaces that were modern-day versions of the Greek agora for cities along the eastern seaboard. What worked for Boston and Baltimore, however, failed in Norfolk's largely suburban metropolitan area. The $13.5 million Waterside never quite became an urban destination in the mind of the public, and an $8.5 million expansion, finished in 1990, only exacerbated the marketplace's financial woes. But Waterside's fortunes improved later in the decade when the tenant mix was reshuffled in favor of large chain restaurants. Wallace, Robertson and Todd of Philadelphia essentially created an enlarged version of the ferry terminal that once stood at the foot of nearby Commercial Place, repeating the earlier building's graceful fanlights and hipped roof. Its polygonal glass curtain walls provide stunning views of the waterfront, Portsmouth, and downtown Norfolk. A riverfront esplanade connects the marketplace to Town Point Park and the Nauticus maritime center to the west and north and the Sheraton Hotel to the east. Unfortunately, the enormous width of Waterside Drive discourages pedestrians from exploring the downtown retail district, a situation reinforced by the skywalk connecting the marketplace to the parking garage directly opposite it.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Waterside Festival Marketplace", [Norfolk, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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