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Red Pole Park, City of Southfield
Southfield, MI
Going beyond the path.
A vibrant first step in creating a more walkable community.
Connecting the dots
The City of Southfield has set an aggressive goal of making this car-centric city a more vibrant, pedestrian-friendly place that allows office workers, residents, students and visitors in the community to experience an environment designed around their interests and lifestyles.

The first phase in their plan was to create a pedestrian walkway that spanned much of the city. Engaging HED's landscape architecture group, the initial segment of the path has been designed to create a series of "landscape moments" or outdoor rooms to heighten both the pedestrian experience and driver awareness of the walkability initiative. This project is significant in that it demonstrates the breadth of influence that landscape architecture can provide for community vitality and it shows how unique, environmentally-scaled art can enhance awareness and placemaking to change perceptions of a walkable city.

The first “landscape moment” project implemented is Red Pole Park, an environmental art piece that is visible from the adjacent freeway as well as the pathway. Red Pole Park is a placemaking feature that has created a buzz for the City. It is experienced from within the artwork, from freeway passersby, and from building viewpoints. The design concept was to metaphorically represent the people of the city standing side by side. The bright red color was selected as a symbol of strength and the color of energy, love and passion that inspires citizens to action as well as being high-visibility.

The pathway and Red Pole Park have been well-received by the community: pedestrian and bicycle use has increased, and the success of the project has ensured that extensions of the path be added, creating a more walkable community.
In order to complete the grid on a challenging site, the HED Landscape Architecture team suggested harvesting bench-height stumps from diseased and dying city trees that could be placed with a shallow excavation where a pole could not fit. These metaphorically represent the growing youth of the city, while serving as great places for people to sit or stand and take selfies.
To enhance visibility and awareness of Red Pole Park at night while maintaining a tight budget, solar powered marine navigation lights were placed on top of the poles. Equipped with a photo sensor, these blue lights come on every night and blink like fireflies.
Well-received by the community, Red Pole Park is the first step in a larger non-motorized pathway plan that aim to enhance the perception of the City as a great place to live, work, and play.
Project Data
Red Pole Park 2017-03294-000
City of Southfield
Southfield, Michigan
New Construction
Landscape Architecture
$0.4 Million
    LEED Certified Equivalent
Project Team
  • Mark Hieber
    Landscape Architecture
A vibrant first step in creating a more walkable community.
Red Pole Park, City of Southfield
Southfield, MI
Going beyond the path.