Professor Don Ferlow and LSA 470/670 Advanced Site Design Studio, Spring 2006
In Spring 2006, community members from the Village of Fayetteville and landscape architecture students from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry worked together to develop design ideas for a Canal Landing Park located in the historic center of the village. The design process was initiated by Mayor Mark Olsen. He contacted ESF's Center for Community Design Research to request design assistance from landscape architecture faculty and students to help prepare design studies in advance of engaging a professional design consultant. It was important to the mayor that community members be involved in the park design process from the very early stages and he convened an advisory committee of interested residents and business people to work with the students.
The primary goal for the steering committee was to develop several conceptual design approaches that were based on an understanding of community values and needs, as well as an analysis of site conditions that they could use as the basis of dialogue with the broader community. Academically, the primary goals were to provide an opportunity for design students to learn and practice skills of engaging community members in the design process, to understand the important roles that both design professionals and community members have in creating place-appropriate designs, and to apply emerging design and graphic skills on a project that would benefit the local community.
The design process occurred over the course of five weeks and consisted of the following activities:
The workshop was held at the Village Hall on the evening of March 7, 2006. Approximately 20 community members participated. Through a series of activities using aerial photographs, brainstorming, and group discussions, participants answered the following series of questions:
In the end, participants envisioned a wide range of uses for park visitors of all ages:
Eight student designs were presented at the communication meeting although designs from all 15 students were displayed around the room. Comments, both verbal and written, received from community members on the student presentations were overwhelmingly positive and appreciative of the thoughtfulness, extent, and legibility of the design work. While some of the designs appear to be ready to move onto the next stage of design development, it was never the intent of the process to select one of the student designs as a final approach for the park. Rather, the student work provided alternatives that could serve as the basis for discussion.
The collaboration between the landscape architecture students and the Fayetteville community produced a number of useful outcomes, including a site analysis and inventory, preliminary lists of activities and program, and alternative design ideas around which to base in-depth design proposals. Perhaps most important to the long term process of park design and implementation is the formation of the steering committee, the involvement of additional community members, and the beginning of a transparent process to encourage dialogue and participation in the creation of the new community park.