A great urban park
It is always intriguing to plan a project that has few constraints and gives the designer free rein. NUVIS had that opportunity when it participated in a onetime design competition for a Great Urban Park, sponsored by Pleasanton, Calif. The goal of the competition—which invited entries from the public and students—was to create a comprehensive plan for a 318-acre unimproved parcel of property in the center of the city.
According to the design concept, the multiuse park would accommodate sports fields, civic arts facilities, wildlife refuge education center, child-care center, youth center, agriculture club, gardens, open space, trails, and other public areas. City officials called for site planning to be environmentally and fiscally responsible.
The visually and functionally cohesive park was to be developed in phases over several years. NUVIS established eight objectives that served as the foundation for the plan. These were: sustainability, balance, variety, integration, flexibility, economic viability, practicality, and fun.
The primary objective, considering the park's urban nature and the increasing need to conserve resources, was sustainability. The design team aimed to combine beauty and sustainability to create a Great Urban Park that would serve as an interactive classroom and laboratory focused on resource management. Each component of the park would incorporate sustainable elements to optimize use of non-renewable resources while minimizing environmental impacts. For example:
- Water resource stewardship strategies would include stormwater retention, intelligent water management, flood protection, recharging of water into local aquifers, improving quality and usage of stormwater runoff, and habitat improvements to reduce water usage and runoff.
- Most of the vegetation would be native or water efficient to minimize watering and maintenance.
- Irrigation would use recycled water, well water, and captured rainwater.
- Solar powered lighting would be installed for nighttime activities.
- Furniture and park benches would be made from recycled materials, and bins would be provided for recyclable refuse.
An integral part of the park concept was economic viability, a key factor for any local government. The design team envisioned revenue streams from such diverse sources as concessions and restaurants, land leases, class registration fees, concerts, alliances with commercial sponsors, and even possibly filming of movies.
Above all, the park would be a model of energy and resource efficiency, incorporating the latest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines and components that would educate visitors about sustainability and the wise use of natural resources.