Perkins+Will, in collaboration with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), area residents, community partners, Toole Design Group and a youth design team, has kicked off initial engagement and analysis activities for a new Park Master Plan for the Northeast and Southeast Service Area in the City of Minneapolis. Northeast and Southeast are wonderfully diverse neighborhoods in Minneapolis that have seen significant population and economic growth in recent years.
The East of the River Master Plan will be a written and graphic document that creates a vision for park and recreational land in Minneapolis that sits east of the Mississippi River, including 26 existing neighborhood parks, potential new park properties, and select regional parks and trail links including connection to the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway System - one of the country's longest continuous systems of public urban parkways. In the end, the plan will aim to transform the face of neighborhood parks in this geographic region of Minneapolis to:
• Support vitality and stability in neighborhoods
• Strengthen social connections
• Improve natural ecosystems
• Enhance community health
“This is an incredibly rewarding project for our firm,” said John Slack, ASLA, LEED ND, RELi AP, an Associate Principal and Project Manager. “Last year when it passed the 20-Year Neighborhood Park Plan (NPP20), Minneapolis made it clear that protecting and preserving its city parks, particularly those in racially diverse and economically challenged communities, was a priority. We embrace and celebrate that commitment as we dedicate our time and talent to making the city’s vision a reality.”
Community engagement and thorough site analysis are central to a successful park master plan. Working side-by-side with MPRB staff, our design team developed innovative tools and techniques to clearly communicate project information and involve the community in the visioning process. Design team members attended a wide range of community events – from ice cream socials to back to school nights - and used an interactive visioning board for individual community members to identify potential programming interests. Graphics were developed to be accessible to the diverse community. With decades of prioritizing equitable community engagement as part of our daily design process, we understand the importance of insightful collaboration with the client and community. This strong visioning and community engagement will provide a solid foundation to the future plan and design development.
“This plan must create one overarching vision for a complex park system that encompasses more than 487 acres of parks and trails woven throughout Northeast and Southeast Minneapolis while celebrating the diversity of 19 individual neighborhoods and their residents,” Slack says. “We are excited to work with those residents and create lasting outcomes for the community.”
For the past five years, the Trust for Public Land’s Park Score Index has named Minneapolis the nation’s best park system. In total, Minneapolis boasts 6,804 acres of parkland and water, featuring 179 park properties, a 55-mile national scenic byway, 102 miles of biking and walking paths, 22 lakes, 12 formal gardens, seven golf courses, and 49 recreation centers.
This project continues Perkins+Will’s work with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. We recently completed work on the award-winning MPRB’s Lake Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun) and Lake Harriet Chain of Lakes Regional Park Master Plan and are designing the Northeast Athletic Field Park – Phase 2 Recreation Building.
The Minneapolis studio of Perkins+Will started our Urban Design and Landscape Architecture practice in 2006. Today, our practice includes 10 designers and planners who serve more than 40 corporate, healthcare, municipal, and university campus planning and landscape architecture clients throughout the United States. The Minneapolis studio complements a national Urban Design and Landscape Architecture practice that comprises more than 130 designers who have worked with more than 150 clients around the world.