Brownie Neighborhood Park
SSAU Kristine Stiphany + Jason Sowell

From the Jury:

This project brings the question of agency and social change into the discussion of how we design and who gets to design. In understanding that architecture and the city are too important to be left to architects alone, it also reimagines the forms of engaging the community. The presence of time — not only in the design process as an idea of participation as something that grows, but also in the idea of phasing this park over many, many years — is very realistic.

The scarcity of urban parks, especially in low-income neighborhoods, is a challenge facing growing cities as well as architects, who must increasingly find strategic ways to integrate small urban fragments into transformative public spaces. This project, a two-year collaboration among Austin residents, the Parks and Recreation Department, and a local community association, combines three vacant land tracts into an 8-acre green infrastructure providing recreation, education, and ecological programs in one of the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods.

Organized around a loop of concentric activity paths and diverse game courts, Brownie Neighborhood Park includes playing fields with outdoor learning labs and gardens to support a school located on the southern edge of the site. The phased implementation of the programmatic elements, as well as the ongoing involvement of the city’s residents and management of its ecological resources, serves as an exploration into how design teams can work with communities to create architecture for urban justice.

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