Americká třída / Americká Avenue

(Plzeň) Plzeň Východní Předměstí
GPS: 49.743542N, 13.382118E

Americká Avenue is an important city boulevard heading east to west from the intersection with Sirková Street near the complex of the Central Railway Station, across the Radbuza River up to the place called U Práce, where it meets Klatovská Avenue. While the western, higher situated part of the avenue on the left side of the river bank arose from the natural transformation of a track winding along the suburban fortification south of the historical city centre, its eastern part on the right bank of the Radbuza River, which is the subject of this text, was designed as long ago as the late 19th century as a city boulevard connecting the premises of the central station (with a planned station dispatch building, realised in the years 1902–1908) and the Pražské Předměstí / Prague Suburb with the city centre. Prior to that, only the Second Prague Bridge near the crossroads U Jána had served this purpose.

In the area surrounding the eastern section of Americká Avenue (in the past called Stodolní, Jungmannova, Císaře Františka Josefa, Wilsonova, Karla IV., Stalinova, Moskevská, Ludvíka Svobody, and again Moskevská) suburban gardens and farmyards were located for a long time. It was only after the introduction of the railway, with its tracks leading south of present-day Americká Avenue, and the opening of the railway station that a gradual transformation of this locality commenced. In the late 19th century, a new direct route was planned in the area of the no-longer-existing Lidická Street, to shorten the distance between the station and the centre while also relieving the bridge and the crossroads U Jána. This intention was possible to realise thanks to the construction of the stone bridge of Emperor and King Franz Joseph I (Wilson Bridge today) in the years 1912–1913. 

In 1923, the more than twenty-year-long regulation of the Radbuza River was completed in order to prevent the flooding that regularly afflicted the city centre while also enabling development of the embankment and the area as a whole, which began after the regulation was completed. Most of the plots on the southern front of the eastern part of Americká Avenue were built up with Modernist commercial and apartment buildings in the 1920s and 1930s. Several vacant lots were not built on until after 1989.

The north side of Americká Avenue was used by hobby gardeners, although plans to develop this area also appeared during the inter-war period. In the general regulation plan of Pilsen from the years 1929–1932, the prominent Czech urbanist Vladimír Zákrejs proposed transecting this space with a diagonal street, creating a visual and spatial axis between the building of the Museum of West Bohemia in Pilsen and the railway station. This concept has never been realised, though. Similarly, none of the building plans intended to continue the complex of the County Sickness Institution in Pilsen (C1–1000) and Masaryk Student House on Denisovo nábřeží (C1–1150), thereby creating a corner with Americká Avenue, have been put into effect. Competition designs from the complex of the Jan Hus People’s University (1932) as well as many studies by Bohumil Chvojka, which the Pilsen architect was working on between the mid-1920s and late 1940s, remained on paper.

It was only in the years 1965–1968 that the Prior department store (Tesco Pilsen department store today) was built in this area. By setting the building back from the street, its authors Zbyněk Tichý, Václav Zoubek and Jaroslav Peklo respected the post-war plan of the urbanists František Sammer and Jindřich Krise, who conceived this part of Americká Avenue as a wide prospect. This concept was also observed in the location of the Culture House complex from the 1980s. This complex, completed according to the design of Miloslav Hrubec in collaboration with Pavel Němeček and the structural engineer Jaroslav Holler in 1986, was to involve a high-rise hotel building which was never realised.

The entire complex of the Culture House was demolished in the year 2012, despite the protests of both experts and the general public, to make way for the intended construction of the Corso shopping mall which was intended to occupy most of the northern front of this section of Americká Avenue. However, this intention provoked a potent wave of indignation among Pilsen citizens, who succeeded in acquiring an opportunity to decide about the future of this area in a referendum. This took place in the beginning of the year 2013, and resulted in a rejection of the development which is binding for the City. At the moment, the investor has brought forward litigation against the City for damages for their lost investment while negotiating the sale of the plot back to the City. In 2014, an architecture/urbanism competition was held to plan the whole area, however it did not bring a clear solution as to the future look of this area (the first prize was not awarded).