The Greenwood Community Park Master Plan establishes a process to transform the 660 acre park and zoo into a space that serves as a community hub for the surrounding neighborhoods and as a destination for the people of greater Baton Rouge. Shown above: the site unfolds into a series of programmatic spaces tied together by restored bayous and miles of trails.
Greenwood Park Master Plan Approved, Moving Forward with Unprecedented Design-Led Investment Benefitting North Baton Rouge and the Greater City and Region
Baton Rouge, LA – September 25, 2019 – The Greenwood Park master plan was unanimously approved by the board of commissioners of the Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge (BREC) on September 18, following a final presentation by Sasaki, the Boston-based global design firm leading the planning process for the park. Greenwood Park is the largest park in the Baton Rouge Park System, and today includes golf amenities, miles of trails, waterways, and the Baton Rouge Zoo. The zoo underwent a parallel planning process led by Torre Design Consortium, Ltd., and that plan was simultaneously approved alongside the larger park master plan earlier this month.
The new design, shown here, brings together a whole host of technical constraints like flooding, sensitive habitat, and existing site features with a broad set of community desires. The plan creates a place that can serve as both a regional destination and a neighborhood park.
The Greenwood Park visioning and planning process has been especially inclusive to ensure future plans for the North Baton Rouge park reflect the needs of its surrounding community and visitors, alike. The Sasaki team spoke to over 4,000 Baton Rougians over the past nine months. Coming out of this deep public engagement effort, the broader Baton Rouge community has begun to view the future Greenwood Park as a unifier for the whole city, celebrating the investment in an area that has historically lacked investment.
Several of the key stakeholders that were involved in the planning process offered to assist in the final public meeting demonstrating the community ownership in the planning process. Shown here, the Baker Police Department serves fried catfish that was donated by a local seafood store.
“It is the results of a robust public outreach effort, informed by the ideas and desires of residents from every area of East Baton Rouge Parish and will create a park unlike any other in the region. It reﬂects a bold vision for the future that is innovative, transformational, and celebrates our diversity,” says BREC Superintendent Corey Wilson at the helm of the Greenwood Park project. “I see this as an opportunity to bring the community together with a site that can become a regional attraction.”
A series of four guiding principles established early in the process through listening to the aspirations of the community and stakeholders provided a benchmark for success as the design evolved. These four elements can be found in all phases of the park's future.
Through dialogue with the North Baton Rouge community, Sasaki uncovered four priority areas of focus, which figure prominently in the approved master plan, which is slated to move into design later this year:
Zoo Access – Some community members were surprised to learn that the Baton Rouge Zoo was located in Geenwood Park, which led to the recommendation to reorient the zoo’s entrance to the park’s interior, which will transform the zoo experience and make it an easily-accessible amenity. The Bayou Promenade will serve as Greenwood’s “front porch” and connect the park and the zoo along a restored Cypress Bayou.
The Bayou Promenade connects the main entrance of the Zoo to the Waterfront Building and Lake. This new “front porch” for the community provides spaces for families to gather, meet, and rest. This new features also puts people up-close and personal with the robust native ecosystem of South Louisiana and puts on display the working landscape of the park by creating a formal expression out of flood storage capacity.
Natural Systems – Local residents were excited to have a large natural setting that preserves and highlights southern Louisiana’s natural environment. A robust trails system creates new recreational opportunities for walkers, runners, bikers and horseback riders and supports the Mayor’s a Healthy BR initiative. An expanded lake and new blue trails both create recreational opportunities while also serving a hydrological function of capturing storm water during flooding events.
Adventure Play – The number one community desired program was for an iconic adventure playscape that will engage families and people of all ages in outdoor recreation. Incorporated into the final plan are direct recommendations from community members, including water play elements themed off of the Mississippi River and a larger-than-life Louisiana black bear sculpture.
Greenwood’s Louisiana Playground offers children of all ages something to do. Elevated walks, large slides, larger than life animal play features, delta themed water play features weave in and out of mature forest. This feature was the number one priority that came out of the extensive community engagement process.
Regional Draw with Neighborhood Flair – Another key priority that emerged from BREC’s aspirations and the broad reaching community engagement process was the need for this park to serve both regional demand for festivals and events, as well as local needs for park access to day-to-day amenities and activities. The park’s design balances major anchors such as a large concert venue with quality-of-life features like community gardens and walking trails.
Assistant Superintendent of Parks Planning at BREC, Reed Richard shows a young child some of the exciting new features of the park.
“Enhancing the park’s natural assets and ensuring that this community has equitable access to high quality, beautiful, enriching outdoor amenities was our guiding goal throughout this planning process,” says Anna Cawrse, PLA project manager and landscape architect on the project. “Everyone in the East Baton Rouge Parish will benefit from the park and zoo’s transformation and we’re proud of the plan we created together with the community and BREC. It will be a fantastic new chapter for Baton Rouge and we are excited to see this park built!”
With the approval of the master plan, BREC is targeting groundbreaking on Phase I of implementation by fall 2020 and completion of the first phase in 2022.
Check out more shots from Greenwood's final public meeting and learn more about Sasaki and BREC:
Sasaki senior associate Anna Cawrse, the project manager for the Sasaki team, shows a community member where they are currently located within the proposed design.
At the final public meeting, live music by Sweet Southern Heat kicked off the party. The master plan design was presented before a series of activities celebrated the culmination of 10 months of community engagement.
Sasaki senior associate Joshua Brooks, a landscape architect and planner on the project, discusses details of the master plan with community members as others look at other elements of the plan. A 30’ square print out was on full display at the final public meeting allowing individuals to take a tour of the park.
Community members and public officials look on as the design team presented the final master plan. There were roughly 1,000 people that attended the final public meeting representing people from all over the city and beyond.
At the final public meeting a diverse range of stakeholder holders and community members were present demonstrating the broad reach of the team’s community engagement strategy which was foundational to the plan.
At Sasaki, we believe in the transformative power of place. Places transcend physical spaces, becoming the context and the content of our experience of life. For over sixty years, Sasaki has brought together the best of landscape architecture, planning, urban design, architecture, interior design, civil engineering, graphic design, place branding, and data science to shape the places in which we live. Out of our Boston and Shanghai offices we are defining the contours of place and redefining what’s possible along the way. Today, we are a diverse practice of 270 professionals who share a singular passion for creating spaces and places around the world that prove human potential.
BREC is the agency that connects people to parks and nature in East Baton Rouge Parish. It is a political subdivision of the state of Louisiana created in 1946 to develop, maintain and operate public park and recreational facilities. Throughout its 70-year history, BREC has taken seriously its responsibility to improve the health, safety, environment and quality of life for all citizens. BREC was among the first park agencies to earn national accreditation and recently earned reaccreditation for an unprecedented fifth time, meeting all 144 standards. BREC is a two-time National Gold Medal Award winner and 13-time national finalist.