Feature Article - January 2020
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The Spaces We Share

Landscape Design Pros on Park Design

By Dave Ramont

Meeting the Community's Needs

Site furnishings are a major consideration, according to Ishikawa, including lighting, seating, recycling bins and trash receptacles.

Hornig agrees, and said that creature comforts are critical. "With destination spaces we're trying to encourage the visitors to have fun, which will create memories which will encourage them to return." To accomplish this, he said everything needs to work together, from signage and parking to the actual experience (sports, play, nature, etc.), to the availability of shade, drinking water, restrooms, etc.

And what about the users themselves—are they often engaged in planning processes for new park spaces? "It's common for us to have multiple points of public contact during the early design stages to gauge interest, preferences, goals and needs before formulating a plan," said Hornig. "The desires typically grow based on what the community has seen, so they're continually elevating their wants based on their travels near and far."

Ishikawa explained that designing for and engaging with a community or client is definitely a part of the process. "As parks and public spaces are perceived as more than just a bench and lawn nowadays, community members are more aware of what's possible outdoors and have really unique interests! One very common request is for flexible spaces that can be used for a myriad of uses."

Besides being stewards of the environment, Balsley points out that they're also people-centric designers. "As one example, all of our urban parks include compact dog runs that bring urban dog owners of all ages to the park 24/7, 365 days a year. Our design commitment to offering a broad appeal is supplemented with strategic space planning that reserves open, flexible areas for impromptu or programmed events that foster social and cultural exchanges."

Balsley adds that the success of our public spaces is a reflection of the emphasis placed on the public process and consensus building. "Our well-earned reputation as listeners and 'sponges' is often rewarded with the artistic license to put form to input and spark the public's landscape imagination." RM