University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky

Lexington, KY


Design Adds Value to the Commons

By ukcod
Jan 28, '13 1:45 PM EST

The College of Design hosted five internationally renowned landscape architect teams in a symposium to discuss the merits of good design in an urban environment.
Mark Johnson of Civitas, Shane Coen of Coen+Partners, Petra Blaisse of Inside Outside, Julien de Smedt & Diana Balmori of JDS Architects/Balmori Associates and Kate Orff of Scape addressed a crowd of over two hundred students, faculty, city officials, industry professionals and members of the public at the Lexington Children's Theatre. Dean Michael Speaks moderated the event; Aaron Betsky, Director, Cincinnati Art Museum and Bradford McKee, Editor, Landscape Architecture magazine also participated in the discussion.

The five design teams were shortlisted by the Downtown Development Authority for the Town Branch Commons Competition. The project involves creating a linear park in addition to a series of pocket parks centered around the Town Branch Creek, which currently flows beneath Lexington's streets.

"Water creates a certain energy in a city", said Diana Balmori, representing JDS Architects. "It creates tourism, business development. Things come to it. It is a corridor for development."

According to SCAPE's Kate Orff, such a project could serve a performative function, as the park and the resurfaced creek could filter storm water and remove pollutants.

Though the five teams varied in their approaches to the project, they all agreed that Town Branch Commons would do more than drive business and tourism to Lexington's downtown scene. "It would resolve urban issues and generate city dynamics," said Shane Coen. "The outdoor space is vital to the health of a city."