Buckhead is a vibrant mixed-use community, with a strong combination of upscale retail and dining experiences, commercial space, and mid- to high-rise residential at its center. Its greatest shortcoming is its lack of open space. Additionally, the core of Buckhead is bisected by GA400, which inhibits pedestrian connectivity of the commercial center. The 2015 Vision Study for a Signature Park clearly identifies two interrelated problems in the heart of the district: first, the obstacle that GA400 presents, and second, the lack of developable sites for medium- to large-scale gathering spaces.
The Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID) endeavored to develop a signature urban park over GA400. Our team was chosen to deliver a detailed plan and concept design for a cap park over GA400. Rather than cap the entirety of the freeway right-of-way from Peachtree Road to Lenox Road, our design for Buckhead Park Over GA400 will make strategic connections over GA400 to enhance the life of the district. At the same time, PATH400, a bike and recreation trail to the north and south of the site, will be pulled into the park.
The project is tailored to the specific qualities of this site. Undulating Piedmont topography, direct transit access, and potential cultural opportunities present a rich landscape into which we weave this new signature public space. We have teamed with local planners to coordinate and lead community workshops and stakeholder interviews to ensure public involvement where appropriate in the park programming process. Additionally, outreach to retail and mixed-use developers active in Buckhead and Atlanta as a whole is currently underway to assess the park’s attractiveness to the development community, in order to establish basic parameters regarding the potential for added high-quality real estate development opportunities in the area. This is a critical aspect of the financing strategy and fiscal longevity of this new public amenity.
The design process considers programming goals, access for maintenance, event support, emergency access, microclimatic conditions, sustainable stormwater mitigation, project phasing and financing, and vibrant urban experiences, among other design parameters. Through the testing of multiple design strategies, three distinct zones of programming will be created: The Commons, the Plaza, and the Gardens. Each of these zones is intended to accommodate a range of programs and events. The 2,500-foot-long cap over the highway will provide ample capacity for plazas, splash pads, lawns, beacons, gardens, pavilions, and more. Spanning the length of the park, the allée of high-canopied pines provides a defining structural element to the sequence of spaces. With dappled shade and majestic trunks, the allée moves through the distinct zones with a linearity that contrasts with the sweeping curves of the ground plane.