58. Celebrate Existing Sacred Spaces as Community Assets

  Strong Towns, in their post “Is Nothing Sacred” highlights the conundrum of integrating sacred spaces into communities, once their original use has passed.  While the article makes great points about reprogramming the building itself, searching for viable plans for adapted reuse, a perspective that is missing is the value that the historic architecture has on…

57. Create Public Reflection Groves

Many different groups have espoused the benefits of exposure to nature.  Business Insider recently highlighted benefits ranging from increased focus and visual acuity to reduced risk of early death (!). In discussing the how to incorporate the different facets of health into public spaces, the notion of creating multi-denominational spiritual spaces came up.  One of…

56. Plant More Flowers

I was going to talk about the Conservatories needing an outdoor gardens experience today, but in honor of the daffodils in my yard after a light spring rain, the simple thought of planting more flowers seemed more appropriate. Take a cue from the Lupine Lady herself: Miss Rumphius  

55. Create Unique Identities for City Parks

In 1891, the City of Chicago made a shift from their focus on the large iconic parks of Lincoln Park, Jackson Park, and Washington Park (all made in the image of Central Park New York).  They instead took on a neighborhood scale open space approach to address the unmet social needs of the working class….

54. Golf Courses as Naturalized Parks

Golf courses are much maligned for their impact on the environment.  From intense watering needs to frequent mowing regimens to their use of pesticides and herbicides, they are also a significant drain on the finances of public park departments. Changing this requires a shift in thinking both about how we use these spaces, but also…

53. Reinforce the Energy Surrounding the City Cemetery Plans

The City Cemetery served as South Bend’s first planned open space, 30 years before the City became a city.  At the time, park design was in its infancy, primarily relegated to large estate planning.  These large tracts of land (the City Cemetery is just over 21 acres currently), served as places of respite for urban…

52. Create Better Urban Parks

Architecture is obvious.  You know what buildings look like in part because they visually occupy the positive space in the built environment.  As we often see in art, negative space can change our perception of an image, adding to its depth or importance.  Because parks and open spaces are situated between and around buildings, especially…

51. Keep Golf Courses Open as Winter Clubhouses

According to Elizabeth Klusinske, who writes at Decoded Science, golf courses take up about 1,504,210 acres of land in the U.S. and are a drain on municipal resources as well as the local ecosystem.  For an entity that is only open for part of the year, costs cities an extraordinary amount of money to maintain, and…

50. Create an Emerald Necklace of Parks: Connect Neighborhoods

Cities are made up of more than just a collection of buildings.  There are interconnected transportation systems, networks of utilities, and often overlooked are the public lands of parks.  Less obvious than the physical space of buildings, public spaces like parks and plazas aren’t the first priority when it comes to funding or physical infrastructure…

49. Near Northwest Neighborhood Retention Basins

Cities around the country are directing stormwater to vacant lots as a method to manage the issue of system capacity and treatment.  But when you’re trying to address a 40 million gallon capacity issue, like South Bend, you have to create 713 installations like this (750 sqft basement footprint x 10 ft height equals approximately 56,100…

48. Scottsdale Shopping Area Sprawl Repair

  The Erskine Village shopping area (formerly Scottsdale Mall) is the epitome of a sprawl influenced shopping experience.  With street facing parking areas, the entire development is geared toward the perspective from your car (buildings far from the road, large signs at the road competing for attention and cluttering the corridor).  Over a decade ago,…

47. St. Patrick’s Public Space

As you look out west from downtown South Bend, the spires of St. Patrick church are hard to miss.  While I’ve often lamented the unfortunate misalignment of Wayne St. with the ornate structure (a missed opportunity of using streets to frame important views), the open space across Taylor Street has the potential to help reinforce both the…