New park offers a peaceful green oasis, a stage, and a meditation space with a planning process centered around buy-in and support from community members and stakeholders
Image Credit: Edwin Remsberg
As part of an ongoing effort to replace blight in Baltimore City and generate a higher standard of living for community residents, students in UMD’s Landscape Architecture program led the design of Gold Street Park, a new community space in Druid Heights, Baltimore. The project was initiated and led by Byoung-Suk Kweon, associate professor in Landscape Architecture, and was driven by feedback and partnerships with local community residents and stakeholders. The now completed Gold Street Park is an architecturally significant and environmentally sustainable public green space with multiple features and attractions available to the community, and is the latest in a series of parks intended to revitalize Druid Heights, following the completion of Archway Park in 2019. Rather than looking at and traversing a vacant lot, residents may now contribute to the city’s environmental sustainability by managing stormwater runoff, convene with their friends and families for performances, enjoy art projects and a meditation space, hold outdoor church services, and much more.
What began as a Landscape Architecture Design Studio project quickly turned to gold by winning the 2016 Sustainable Growth Challenge Award, a project through which the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission engages Maryland college students to incorporate sustainable growth into their solutions, while also providing them with career building, real world experiences. Jason Poole, Jennifer Ren and Laura Robinson were the winning team members in partnership with Kweon. Vince (Che-Wei) Yi, another landscape architecture student, put the construction drawings together for Gold Street Park. Today, the park exists with many of the original features included in the initial concept design, which the students incorporated after listening sessions with members of the Druid Heights community.
“Alongside Dr. Kweon and Druid Heights residents, we worked on a concept design to lay out the big ideas, the general theme, and the design aesthetic. Our original site plan included a stage, a meditation area, and bioretention features like a rain garden, which are all captured in the new park,” says Robinson. “When it comes to designing community spaces you first listen to the community’s wants and needs and then balance that with what the environmental factors of the site allow. The fact that this went from design to completion really shows the perseverance of the community and how much dedication and effort went into this project by so many different groups.”
Gold Street Park was officially unveiled to the community on September 14 with appearances and remarks from Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott, Nick Mosby, president of the Baltimore City Council, Craig Beyrouty, dean of UMD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and many other VIPs.
“Gold Street Park is symbolic of a great community that went through serious decline but is now beginning to see new life. When multiple agencies come together to solve problems, like Chesapeake Bay Trust, the City of Baltimore, CityScape Engineering and others, great things can happen,” says Kweon. “Communities like Druid Heights cannot afford professional landscape architecture services so it was a great opportunity for my students to make a difference in the lives of people who really need it. We are improving quality of life and contributing to a healthier Chesapeake Bay, which are both immensely important and rewarding pursuits.”