At the turn of the last century, landscape architects played a pivotal role in designing and shaping North America's expanding metropolitan regions. From Olmsted to Nolen, the integration of landscape, housing, and the suburban way of life were inextricably linked. While the globally ubiquitous suburban contemporary model is radically different from the Riversides, Palos Verdes Estates, and countless modernist Garden Cities of the last century, there has been very little progress and design innovation in the shaping of public open space and parks in today's suburbia. This research supports design exploration by understanding the contemporary environmental, infrastructural, social, economic, and cultural dimensions of suburban public parks. In the long term, this will help identify innovative strategies for environmentally and socially resilient design of benefit to suburban communities everywhere. This research primer would help public agencies evaluate and improve their current approach to park revitalization and infrastructure renewal. For developers, it will provide them with a different approach to suburban park design, based on precedent-setting and contextual readings of contemporary landscape architecture and urbanism. The proposed research would also benefit municipalities by highlighting new potential relationships across departments that may not have otherwise worked together (e.g. public health and water infrastructure). The research ultimately aims to generate a primer for these publicly developed and managed assets. The possibility lies in maximizing and rendering visible undervalued, or non-existent, socioecological co-benefits through design.
Climate resilience and adaptation planning have been criticized for overlooking social vulnerability and failing to engage with equity and power issues. This places a focus on the vulnerability of under-represented populations to the impacts of climate adaptation planning policy action. This project defines and identifies attributes that link social equity to physical urban resilience– especially in public open space assets (such as suburban parks) and other public realm infrastructures. These links occur at the intersection of socio demographic information, geophysical conditions, urban form, planning policy, public health, and climate risks. The work aims to highlight the environmental, infrastructural, social, economic, and cultural inventories and tools necessary for transforming untapped and underutilized public assets across metropolitan regions. The project also aims to directly address potential dangers of climate-induced gentrification brought upon by a) unequal publicly funded blue-green infrastructure investment at the expense of other social services and b) increased land values through enhanced protection from risk.
This project is linked to the Tower in the Park: A Prospective for Equitable Resilience and is funded by The Mayflower Research Fund
Fadi Masoud, Ambika Pharma, Louisa Kennett, Ruiqui Zhao, Alex Shenibuam, Tina Cui