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.