“The United States is still recovering from urban renewal decisions to prioritize highways over communities, resulting in neighborhoods—primarily occupied by residents of color—that have been bifurcated by massive infrastructural barriers. Decades later, some of those disruptive decisions are beginning to be ameliorated, as are the communities impacted by them. One such community is Lynwood, California, where the five-block Ricardo Lara Linear Park replaces a barren, freeway-adjacent right-of-way with a shaded green space that affords park access to more than 26,000 neighbors. Rainwater capture and retention systems reduce runoff and address previous flooding issues, while also providing a dynamic and cooling feature that promotes exercise, agriculture, and togetherness.”
– 2021 ASLA National Awards Jury
Ricardo Lara Park is a vibrant city park and a case study in landscape infrastructure. It demonstrates how a small investment and creative thinking about landscape can transform the very infrastructure that has long divided and isolated a community into an amenity that unites it, offering much-needed environmental and recreational benefits.
Here, more than five acres of vacant lots along an I-105 freeway embankment were transformed into a mile-long park that filters stormwater runoff (equivalent to six swimming pools per year), improves air quality, and provides multiple outdoor gathering spaces.
SWA’s design was inspired by a collaboration with the nonprofit From Lot to Spot to conduct community outreach; this lively exchange of ideas contributed to the park’s unique identity, structure, and function.
Cross streets divide the park into five blocks, and each block accommodates a different program: dog park, fitness stations, play structures, community gardening and education, and passive recreation with artwork and storm water detention. Advancing Lynwood’s “Healthy City Initiative,” the park connects with the LARIO Bike Trail and promotes healthy lifestyles in what has been a community long under-served by parks and open space.
Learn more about our work in Landscape Infrastructure
Hermann Park is one of Houston’s great civic resources containing a significant urban forest and many public venues. It is the flagship of the Houston Park system, serving the recreation needs of the City’s diverse population of some four million and welcoming over six million visitors a year. However, like many urban parks in America, much of Hermann Park has...
Originally completed in 1972, this vestige of IM Pei’s urban renewal plan was built when the street was seen as a menace and parks turned inward. Rolling berms surrounded the edges and the sunken middle areas were filled with concrete retaining walls. After years of decline, Thomas Balsley Associates’ designed a plan to reunite the community with its park. The...
Bensonhurst Park is part of the larger Shore Parkway, an 816.1-acre collection of parks that stretches across Brooklyn and Queens. Today, the site provides a series of pathways, passive seating areas, recreational fields and a playground.
SWA/Balsley created a master plan for the redesign of the north end of the park and final design and construction doc...
Freedom Park Master Plan
Despite Freedom Park’s rich history as a site of protest in late 20th-century Atlanta, proximity to vibrant destinations, and vast, bucolic open space, the site has suffered from indistinct identity, unclear boundaries, unsafe pedestrian crossings, low biodiversity, limited placemaking, and minimal programming. SWA’s master plan ushers a new era in ...