An Evolving Framework for Equity // Gathering Place, A Park for Posterity
As part of a double-session with three practitioners from Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), Laura Solano and Adrienne Heflich will be presenting on the firm's evolving Black Lives Matter Framework for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Standards. Both portions of the session will include guest-moderator Jescelle Major (BERK Consulting, Associate). Included below, is a description for Senior Associate Scott Streeb's lecture on the design process and post-construction analysis of the office's work on the Gathering Place in Tulsa, OK:
The Gathering Place is a 64-acre park situated along the Arkansas River just 2 miles from downtown Tulsa. Funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation and developed in close consultation with city officials and the local community, the new park transforms the terrain of what was originally a flat, windblown and sun-baked site — raising topography in some areas, digging down to water in others, and reintroducing a broad range of native ecologies.
The park, which opened in September 2018, is meant to serve its own neighborhood, but also the city as a whole. Gathering Place program deliberately features an abundance of activities and experiences, so that each visit back could present an opportunity to enjoy something new. Access and circulation are facilitated through strategic car access and parking, regional bike trails that thread through the park, and new pedestrian land bridges that unify the site into a cohesive whole.
Tulsa's hot summers and the riverfront location inspired the idea that water should be a character-defining element of the park, experienced in play features as well as in the fundamental landscape structure of the park. Topography sub divides the site into a series of smaller spaces, each supporting a wide variety of program where everyone can find something to do. Local stone helps connect the Gathering Place to the region's natural features.
Play spaces within the park are boldly expressive and richly programmed. The complex combination of fantastic elements (for instance, colossal animals and fruit) are interwoven with towers, slides, bridges, and swings to create an environment for imaginative and tactile play along with a robust array of physical challenges. Active sports, like the skateboard park and basketball courts will give teenagers and young adults abundant opportunities to enjoy public space and the riverfront environment. In addition to an exciting array of daytime programs, nighttime use of the Gathering Place is encouraged with eating facilities, dramatic lighting and venues for movies and other programs. The name of the park reveals the guiding vision: this is meant to be a democratic space that brings the people of Tulsa together. Tulsa has a long history of social inequity and the intent of the Gathering place is to bring people together. Regardless of age, race, gender, culture or socio-economic background.