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robertogreco : sammockbee   1

In rural Alabama, student architects jump-start a neglected park | MNN - Mother Nature Network
"A shift from architectural showstoppers to “in-between areas”
In 2012, Rural Studio’s citizen architects doubled up again for two distinct Lions Park projects.

The first, Lions Park Scout Hut, is just that — a handsome new home for the local Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops that have long served as environmental stewards of the park. The log cabin-inspired facility is equipped with restrooms, storage areas, woodstove and a kitchen that’s sizable enough to handle the Scout’s annual catfish fry fundraiser. As noted by Architectural Record, “the hut's dimensions were determined largely by the space required to house two travel trailers and the imperative to accommodate an elevated track for the Pinewood Derby — the legendary Cub Scouts model car race. Pack 13 wanted the longest one they could have: 48 feet.”

In tandem with the Scout Hut, the second thesis team — Alex Henderson along with Jessica Cain, Mary Melissa Yohn and Benjamin Johnson – embarked on the Lions Park Landscape project. Although this project did not yield razzle-dazzle restrooms, crowd-drawing concrete half-pipes or a Tom Kundig-esque atelier, it served as a vital — and much needed – step in the transformation of Lions Park: it visually ties everything together.

As explained by Henderson, Lions Park’s turnaround has progressed in a somewhat piecemeal fashion. Certain areas were lavished with a fair amount of attention while other areas — the “in-between areas” as Henderson calls them — were left largely untouched. The balance was off-kilter. Lions Parks, home to several new eye-catching structures that had attracted the attention of the global architecture community, was still rough around the edges.

“The goal was to give all of the park’s empty spaces a name and character,” says Henderson. “We were trying to give all of the park attention.”

To beautify the areas around the new sports facilities and make the park a more appealing place to simply relax and unwind, Henderson and his peers planted a large number (about 170) and a wide variety of trees — white oak, eastern redbud, bald cypress, red maple, flowering dogwood and others. The team also created a quartet of rain gardens to better manage stormwater runoff while tackling assorted landscaping odd-and-ends that tie disparate sections of the park together into a cohesive whole. Additionally, the team devised a long-term maintenance plan, not just for the park’s landscaped elements but for infrastructure as well.

The maintenance conversation is still an on-going one that centers around the central question: how can a city, a city that’s modest in both size and affluence like Greensboro, successfully use limited resources to maintain a park for the long-haul?

As Henderson points out, “you don’t want to build something that can’t be taken care of.”

One solution now underway is the transition from a joint-ownership model towards a single ownership scenario in which the city of Greensboro would main control over the park. A first-ever parks and recreation board consisting of a council of appointees would be formed to direct management and oversee a small annual budget.

For now, Lions Park, along with a few pocket parks scattered around town, are maintained by the city road crew — the same folks responsible for fixing potholes, picking up litter and mowing the lawn in front of the county courthouse. It’s a big job for these city employees, whom Henderson refers to as the “unsung community heroes.” In the future, a small maintenance team would be assembled to exclusively attend to Greensboro parks to ensure that they receive the attention they need."
ruralstudio  alabama  greensboro  architecture  design  auburn  matthickman  2015  parks  revitalization  sammockbee  andrewfreear 
february 2015 by robertogreco

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