With the aim to create the self-proclaimed “Central Park of Lakeland,” architecture firm Sasaki Associates is converting Bonnet Springs Park in Central Florida from a former CSX railyards property to an ecological hub. Initially, a vacant brownfield, the site is currently undergoing environmental remediation to tackle the years of industrial damage, with plans to be open to the public by 2020.
Using creative environmental mechanisms to ready the site for construction, the architects plan to stockpile the arsenic and petroleum hydrocarbons prevalent in over a third of the 180-acre of the land as landscaping elements. The mounds may reach a 90-foot grade, completely altering the existing topological conditions.
A significant feature of the site, the constructed wetland gardens are connected to a degraded stream corridor that carries the stormwater to prevent pollutants from entering Lake Bonnet. This allows clean water to be produced from the sand seep spring, a new restored hydrological system that will help stabilize the banks and provide habitat for water-loving fauna. Interested visitors are able to view this process during their journey on the intertwined boardwalk.
The scheme consisting of four new buildings immersed in the landscape is intended to create seamless exterior and interior experiences for the park visitors. Constructed between two hills, the Explorations V Children’s Museum serving as the park’s anchor institution will provide rooftop views of the site. Amidst the 18-feet high walkways, the buildings feature oversized canopies to create spaces to play and learn about the surrounding landscape.
By integrating programmatic elements such as a nature, event, and welcome center, the park plans to generate income for long-term economic sustainability. In addition, the park features heritage gardens, a canopy walk, open lawns, walking and biking trails, non-motorized boating activities, and a sculpture garden. This surrounding open area can be used to host outdoor concerts and festivals as well.
Intended as an outdoor space to showcase the history of the site, native flora and fauna, and contemporary art and sculpture, the thoughtful utilization of the land will create a new urban center within the emerging downtown center of Lakeland.
PrincipalZach Chrisco, Christine Dunn
Senior AssociateAnna Cawrse, Andrew Gutterman, Jill Allen Dixon
News via Sasaki