Don’s Blog: Downtown Park Design Firm Selection Process

Cary, NC – At our work session last night the council agreed to move forward with a new process for selecting a design consultant to work with the community, town staff and the council to design phase 2 of the new downtown park.

In a nutshell, four nationally recognized design firms will be competing for the job.

Why do we want to engage a nationally renowned award winning design firm with this project you ask? Well, if you want to build the best park in the country, you look for the best park planners. While Cary absolutely has some amazing and beautiful parks throughout town, we are cranking this one up to 11 😀

An interdepartmental team of town staff members researched a number of design firms who have created award winning parks and public spaces across the country and whittled that list down to four that they recommended the council consider. They presented this list along with examples of their work for council to consider.

The four design firms recommended are being considered because of their proven record of repeated success and commitment to shared design goals which include:

  •  The importance of engaging the community and incorporating unique features from the community into the park design.
  • Emphasis on the development of large and small spaces creating the right balance for each unique park setting.
  • Experience working with a variety of funding models to include public/private partnerships and/or community foundations to support design and construction of the parks.
  • An understanding of the relationship of the park’s immediate proximity to its surroundings be it a museum, a performing arts center, restaurants, shops, commercial and residential development so  the entire area thrives along with the park.

Each firm will visit Cary to learn about our community, visit the park site and review current plans and meet with staff and council. They will return at a later date to present their ideas and proposed approach to working with our community to create the master plan for phase 2 of the downtown park. Upon the completion of this process, the council will select one of the four that best demonstrates our community’s vision and values.

So, ya, you could say that I’m a little excited 😀 I can’t wait to see how this process plays out.

I do want to be clear that this specific process in not to design the park – only to select the best design firm possible. Design will occur after this process is completed and will include significant community input. This will be your park after all.

Thanks to everyone who has worked to get us to this point and special thanks to the members of the interdepartmental team who spent extra time outside of their usual responsibilities and maybe even stepped outside of their comfort zone a little to be a part of something remarkable. You all never cease to amaze me! It’s great to be Cary!

Oh, and since I know you are going to ask 😉 the four design firms selected to participate and some examples of their work include:

James Corner

Previous park projects include The High Line in New York City, Public Square in Nashville and Navy Yards Central Green in Philadelphia

Office of James Burnett

Previous park projects include Klyde Warren Park in Dallas and LeBauer Park in Greensboro.

Nelson Byrd Woltz

Previous park projects include CityGarden in St. Louis and Centennial Park in Nashville.

Hargreaves Associates

Previous park projects include Belo Garden Park in Dallas and Discovery Green Park in Houston


From the blog of Cary Councilmember Don Frantz. Photo courtesy of Don Frantz.

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1 reply
  1. Johnny Jones
    Johnny Jones says:

    Great! The park should have a design that will stand the test of time (nothing too trendy) & that can be practically & affordably maintained.

    The property itself is beautiful. It should be a light lift for a talented design firm.

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