SITE: Pleasanton, CA

SCOPE: Plant animal habitat, visual performing Art Center, Wetlands, Savannahs, and Woodlands

DATE: 2004

AWARD: Finalist, Bernal Property Design Competition

Year after year our impact on the environment intensifies, changing the land and our relationship to it. As urban and suburban areas densify, and our desire for nature grows, the demands on the public landscape require us to become stewards of an evolving and thoughtfully balanced environment. Ultimately, the consequences of our occupation of the landscape are reversible. Our strategy for Bernal Central Park is to approach the reclamation of the land as just such an opportunity.

The design strategy was to undo a century of water diversion practices to reestablish a viable water table and create a self-sustaining park where water is naturally collected and managed to provide plant and animal habitat opportunities, human amenity and educational resources.

Ecological connectivity and renewable energy, were universally applied to the overall 500 Acre hydrological system, conceived in collaboration with Arup Engineers, as a giant water purification and redistribution mechanism powered passively by the sun. Components of the final park included a Visual and Performing Arts Center, a plant nursery and other community serving institutions, a freshwater wetland, oak savannas and woodlands, and an extensive path system.

The Park is an indicator of social and environmental well-being. Phasing these changes must embrace the numerous commercial, social, recreational and educational pressures of contemporary civic place making. Our proposal suggests that the park and its users have an active role to play in its making. We propose a strategy, an infrastructure, and a set of objectives. The approach is successionary, implying that the landscape is meant to change and evolve in a gradual and orderly way. The phasing strategy recommends a sequence that prioritizes certain actions consistent with the unique typologies of this site’s development. The Park represents a place of rejuvenation, where diminished plant and animal habitat is restored, and importance is placed upon communal cultural rituals and environmental responsibilities.