Center City Park Design and Landscaping
In March 2003, Project for Public Spaces conducted a public educational presentation in Greensboro to introduce concepts associated with successful urban parks. For the remainder of 2003, Downtown Greensboro, Inc. and the Center City Park Committee facilitated 45 community workshops to show park elements and determine which park features and activities citizens preferred. In March 2004, the Center City Park Committee issued a nationwide request for proposals from top park designers. From 29 landscape architecture firms responding, the Halvorson Design Partnership, Inc. of Boston was selected as lead park designer. Architects Touloukian and Touloukian, Inc. of Boston designed the pavillion and pergola structures. Local design firm J. Hyatt Hammond Associates were the Architect of Record and assisted with on-site supervision. Rentenbach Constructors, Inc. served as general contractor. Don Euser Waterarchitecture, Inc. of Ontario collaborated on the fountain design.
ETM Associates, LLC assisted in developing strategies for operating and managing the park, which is a public/private partnership of the City of Greensboro, Action Greensboro, and other private-sector park supporters. The park property is owned by the real estate divisions of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation.
Bob Uhlig (right) and Jonathan Peet of the Halvorson Design Partnership were lead designers of Center City Park. Their love of play is unmistakable throughout the park.
The Halvorson design for Center City Park utilizes information gathered from the citizen workshops, as well as from the experience of operating the Interim Center City Park during a 17-month period.
Center City Park was conceived as a series of outdoor rooms that are comfortable and functional for large scale events as well as for small groups and individuals to relax and socialize.
The streetscape along its perimeter extends the park experience to the roadway edges, with a broad sidewalk featuring raised planters integrated with granite benches to encourage activity along the street. Plantings separate park users from the street and distinguish the park from its urban surroundings.
Each edge and corner of the park responds to the adjacent context. Gateways at the northwest and southwest edges are visually porous so as to give pedestrians an open invitation to enter and experience the park. Both northwest and southwest gateways are identified with pergola shade structures and sculptures to mark the entries. Davie Street visually and physically connects the park with the Greensboro Cultural Center and Festival Park, thereby enhancing the perception of the park as extending across the street.
Design inside the park is composed of a number of artworks and interpretive elements. Larger park features include the Great Lawn, Oval Lawn, Pavilion, fountain and pergolas.
The Great Lawn, adjacent to the main entrance, is oriented to overlook the fountain and slopes down toward Davie Street, forming a natural amphitheatre. This broad lawn supports both daily park use and staging for large events. Paths lead users through a series of contrasting intimate spaces featuring art compositions and quotations integrated with seating to allow opportunities for viewing art elements.
The Oval Lawn and Pavilion create a venue for intimately-scaled activities and daily events. The Pavilion provides protection from the sun and bad weather, as well as housing restrooms, support facilities for vendors and special events, and an enclosure for park and fountain plumbing and mechanical operations. The design and detailing of the pergolas, which are wooden canopy structures with intricately woven details, are inspired by the shuttle and weaving loom, recalling the importance of the textile industry to the early growth of Greensboro.
The fountain is an abstract representation of the seasonal stream beds found throughout the Piedmont region of North Carolina. It increases in size and intensity as the water travels along the elevational change of the water stairs and culminates at the base of the Great Lawn.
Throughout the park there is a rich mix of deciduous and evergreen plantings. Plants have been selected for hardiness, branching form, foliage color and texture, flowers, berries, and bark. To provide shade on the lawns, some trees have been selected for their height, spread, and fast growth.
Most of the plantings are at the edges and corners of the park, framing the lawns, walks, and fountains while maintaining visual access from the surrounding streets.
Plantings are multi-layered. Most areas include some combination of tall shade trees, smaller flowering and evergreen trees, ornamental shrubs, and perennials. This planting plan provides a lush appearance evoking North Carolina's native forests and enhancing the four-season character of the park, with constant change throughout the seasons.
The initial planting plan for Center City Park included:
|Shade trees||19 species||109 trees total|
|Ornamental trees (including flowering trees, coniferous trees, and trees with notable bark)||15 species||110 trees total|
|Ornamental shrubs (flowering shrubs, evergreen shrubs, shrubs with notable berries or fragrance)||31 varieties|
|Flowering perennials, ferns, ground covers, and ornamental grasses and sedges||34 varieties|
|Flowering bulbs||7 varieties||2,500 bulbs total|
New Garden Landscaping and Nursery, Inc. provided the plantings and oversees the park's horticulture.