The Tyler Park neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky, is known for its nightlife, eclectic local shops, fast-food restaurants and fine dining. Also situated along this historic 3-mile stretch is the Original Highlands—one of Louisville’s oldest neighborhoods, characterized by close to 1,000 turn-of-the-19th-century homes. In contrast to the neighborhood’s stately Victorian mansions, a vacant lot overrun by invasive plant species had not only become a safety concern to residents but was also an eyesore.
raised through community outreach
acre property to work with
distinct park areas: Nature Play, The Family Room and The Side Yard
Friends of Beechwood Park
In 2015, a group of neighbors launched a grassroots effort to transform this undeveloped 1-acre property into a neighborhood “pocket park” featuring a diverse array of programming and gathering spaces that could be enjoyed by the community. The nonprofit organization, Friends of Beechwood Park, solicited Gresham Smith to take their vision to the next level.
Reimagining the Space
Based on both client and community feedback a more refined conceptual plan was prepared. The design concept reimagines the vacant space in three meaningful and creative areas that respond to the natural and historical context of the neighborhood: Nature Play—an open children’s area featuring tree swings and natural playground equipment, including rocks and finished tree stumps for climbing; The Family Room—a gathering place modeled after the footprint of a Victorian home; and The Side Yard—a serene, garden-like setting ideal for reading and contemplation.
The Art of Communication
With the help of the Gresham Smith team, a series of communication strategies were developed to assist Friends of Beechwood Park in refining their vision, creating a buzz within the community, leveraging private donations and grant funding, and taking the project from concept through to implementation.
Turning a Vision into Virtual Reality
A virtual reality (VR) campaign helped the nonprofit communicate the design intent to both members of the public as well as local political leaders. The campaign included a pop-up VR experience at a block party fundraiser that allowed the team and the client to immerse the community within the vision. Virtual reality goggles were provided for a fully immersive, three-dimensional experience that revealed what the park will look like when completed.
A 21st-Century Park Space
By applying creative design techniques and innovative communication tools in a cost-effective manner, Gresham Smith helped Friends of Beechwood Park better define their vision, sell the concept, and then raise the funding to begin implementation. The community is now set to enjoy a diverse new gathering space that celebrates the site’s past Victorian history while allowing it the flexibility to be a 21st-century park space.