Graco Park is designed to acknowledge and celebrate the river and Hall’s Island. The design reflects patterns of the river to inform spaces and landscape types. Five main features define the park: two broad tree-lined promenades, a river walk, a flexible green, and a building/plaza zone. The southern promenade leads from the corner of Sibley and Plymouth down to a boardwalk and boat rental shelter at the water’s edge. At the river, a walk defines seating areas, habitat structures, high canopy forest, and plantings. The river walk terminates on the north portion of the site at a river gathering space and the Hall’s Island promontory that feature panoramic views of the city skyline and Hall’s Island. Leading east from the overlook, the regional trail defines the edge of the flexible green space. The building overlooks the flexible green and has two main gathering spaces surrounding it. On the north side is a performance green with seating and on the south side a plaza is defined with stormwater features, benches, a sculptural water feature, and shelter.
The Graco Park building houses three distinct multi-purpose spaces: one, a large open space intended for flexible uses such as performances, fitness classes, community meetings and workshops; the second space serves as an expanded lobby with furnishing for informal gathering or independent work and includes an enclosed conference room; the third, a space designed to house MPRB’s program to introduce teens to creativity and technology. Between these spaces are several restrooms, both gender neutral and gender assigned, storage, and a front desk, which will be staffed during open hours.
The design of the building takes particular care in its impact on the environment, on macro and micro scales, selecting carbon neutral mass timber framing, optimized solar orientation, wildlife friendly glass, and providing a wood scrim that protects the building from solar heat gain in summer while allowing low winter light to warm spaces in winter. Energy saving technology includes a geothermal heat pump and photovoltaic panels on the south roof.