Landscape designer chosen to develop linear park along Beerline Trail
3 April 2017
Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service
Photo courtesy Adam Carr
Hood Design Studio, led by College of Environmental Design Professor of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning Walter Hood, has been chosen to create a new linear park within the Beerline Trail Neighborhood Development Project in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The development project intends to sustain and enrich the lives of the people in the Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods by promoting health, well-being and prosperity through increase circulation of resources, voices, ideas, labor and creativity.
Professor Hood was selected out of a group of three finalists for the project. His work on the Beerline Trail extension is one component of the project’s next phase based on the activities and learnings from a two-year Kresge Foundation Harvesting Leading Practices grant. This work has also been supported by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation (Marvin W. Haesle Fund for the Arts), the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fund for Lake Michigan.
The selection committee noted that Professor Hood will be committed to engagement with local stakeholders and will help build attention needed for project’s long-term implementation. Developing the linear park and other green spaces in connection with reimagining and rehabilitating nearby properties, is one of the key outcomes that has guided the project’s work the past few years. The selection committee believes that Hood’s involvement will also help to address the goal to grow Riverworks as a neighborhood-based creative district strongly positioned to identify, attract and provide support for existing and potential creative entrepreneurs in the area.
“Above and beyond its more obvious use as a pedestrian and bicycle connector, we are interested in the idea of the Beerline Trail’s potential for creating an urban spectacle,” explained Professor Hood. “We want to celebrate the site, make the invisible visible, invite and surprise the users in addition to cementing and enhancing the neighborhood’s identity.”
Professor Hood noted the area’s history as a switching station for the Milwaukee Road railroad, which is a significant part of the local African American community’s history. The trains were a source of transportation for many migrants from the Mississippi Delta to industrial jobs in the city.
“The site, and the train as a symbol, transformed from an economic and cultural resource, to a neglected space. Now we have the opportunity to find ways for this space to become, again, a contemporary cultural and economic resource – a symbol with as much power as the train once held,” said Professor Hood.
The park’s design will include a focus on water quality, healthy food, arts, cultural exchange and other sustainable living options based on feedback received from residents and other stakeholders. The design will also incorporate methods for developing green infrastructure, following a storm water management plan for the Beerline Trail Extension by Marek Landscaping, a local landscape design and construction firm located near the trail.
“We’re very excited to be able to work with Hood Design Studio on this project, which we believe is a significant step forward to making the Beerline Trail a more inviting and stimulating place for local residents and visitors,” said Julia Taylor, president of the GMC. “Walter Hood has demonstrated success in creating spaces that combine art and landscape design to stimulate business, education and community-gathering activity.”
The designer selection process included a nationwide search that took five months to complete and included a 90-minute public workshop, headed by the Beerline Trail Neighbor-Centric Park Design Initiative team and local residents and business owners in the Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods.