Feature Article - November 2009
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Parks Are People & Place

The Intersection of Culture & Ecology in Landscape Design

By Emily Tipping

From large-scale urban park projects meant to unite an entire region to smaller rural park spaces that bring children back to nature, careful attention to landscape design is a common denominator in spaces that function well for their communities.

In recent years, landscape architects have turned their focus toward more sustainable designs. These designs adapt the natural landscape for both active and passive recreation. In addition to saving the planet, they help save money for cash-strapped park districts by saving resources and reducing maintenance requirements.

These landscapes also go beyond sustaining the environment to sustain the communities they serve. Landscape architects carefully involve the community in the planning process to be sure the spaces will be well-used once they're open to the public. And once in place, parks serve to bring those communities closer together.

In this way, the ecology of a sustainable landscape and the cultural fabric of a community mesh to create a landscape that is not out there, where people cannot reach it, touch it or interact with it, but one in which people can immerse themselves, reconnect with the landscape, reconnect with their health and reconnect with each other.

But don't just take our word for it. Check out these many award-winning park landscape projects that exemplify the best of park design for the benefit of the community and the earth.