ASLA Online ASLA Online ASLA Onine American Society of Landscape Architects
ASLA Online ASLA Online ASLA Online What's New Contact Us Site Map Search

Merit Award - DESIGN

right click to download print version
right click to download print version
right click to download print version

Community Center Park
St. Matthews, KY

Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC

Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, ASLA
Principal, Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC
260 South Broad Street, 8th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Tel. 215-732-5215;

Project Purpose

A playful park renovation project that transforms the mundane into the unexpected. Community Center Park is tucked between major commercial areas and bordered by a highway. The site is oddly shaped - the southern half devoted to heavily programmed recreation, the northern half a quiet, wooded area. Like many parks of its type, it had grown incrementally without much concern for efficiency or beauty, and was mainly focused on sports activities. Intensely scheduled during nine months of the year - morning through night - the park's condition was fairly run down. The client asked the designer to improve and upgrade the park. Specific program elements include:

  • Adding two new ballparks
  • Adding Service and Storage Facilities
  • Adding new picnic pavillions
  • Introducing new trails into the park's wooded areas, allowing accessibility for the first time.
  • Generally upgrading the park's ambiance

To realize this program, designers focused on the nature of play, and the play of nature. For the southern, active portion of the park, whimsical ball-like objects are introduced into the park to spark curiosity, and express the energy of the park's myriad sports activities. For the northern, more passive part of the park, designers focused more on the play of nature, using natural elements to facilitate fun and achieve the effect of surprise and delight.

The Nature of Play

"Bouncing hoops," a lit installation that appears to rotate, welcomes visitors along the entry drive. Upon arrival, ball-like bollards separate vehicles from pedestrians without creating a visual barrier. New and improved ballparks are enhanced with a number of surprising elements. Beyond the outfields, for instance, radiating out from home plate, are a series of 'Globe' lights suggesting the trajectory of a home run (and inspiring would be grand-slammers).

New picnic shelters resemble batters cages are designed to provide shade and transparency, with the woven metal mesh material selected to draw upon the park's existing vocabulary.

The Play of Nature

The renovation opened up the park's northern, more natural setting, for the first time. Here, designers created a series of woodland "play rooms" connected by trails. An elevated "tree house" vaguely resembling a birdcage was tucked amidst a shady grove. More woodland rooms were created by carving voids from the forest, each planted with a different texture: Lawn, Fern and Shrubs. New trails snake through the grove and link the rooms. One trail, the "log walk" creates a sixty-foot "short cut" between paths. Recycled logs (cleared for the new playing fields) are laid out in segments as a woodland balance beam, encouraging play.

Role of Landscape Architect

The landscape architect was prime consultant, and responsible for the design ideas and their realization.

Special Factors

This park renovation project enhances functionality as well as transforms the mundane into the unexpected. All materials cleared for new the ballparks were recycled on the site, either as design elements (such as the log walk) or mulch.


Exploring the idea of "play"-as it relates to sports and to nature, landscape architects introduced design improvements to a typical suburban park in a way that transforms the mundane into the unexpected. The result is an improved, more functional park with a distinct and delightful identity. Part of the achievement was educating a client to recognize that investment in aesthetics and art brings value to the community-creating additional interest in and enjoyment of the park.

2001 Award Winners
Press Release
Copyright  1995-2000 by The American Society of Landscape Architects