Earlier this year, through the Akron Civic Commons efforts, Hazel Tree Interiors was asked to design our first public park. What an honor it was to have an opportunity to do what we normally do on the interior of spaces, but for the whole community in a public exterior space like a downtown park! (All of our community-hugging design geek dreams came true!)
Have you ever heard of Lock 2 Park? It is a very small but very cool public park nestled between the back of Canal Park Stadium and the State Street parking deck by Children's Hospital, along the Towpath Trail. You may have been there if you've ever seen the true-to-scale metal frame sculpture of a old time canal boat. (Do you know where it is now? If not, just imagine walking from Lock 4 to Lock 3 and then going a little further down the path, near the volleyball courts - keep going and you'll happen upon Lock 2!)
The Akron Civic Commons is one of five cities focused with the national Reimagining the Civic Commons efforts. The essence of the work of The Civic Commons is described as such (from their website):
"Civic institutions are the connective tissue that binds our communities. From libraries to parks to recreation centers, they are democratizing places that foster inclusion and opportunity. Reimagining the Civic Commons is a national initiative that supports place-based efforts to catalyze lasting change through the creative use of civic assets.
Launched in 2015 with a promising pilot project still underway in Philadelphia, Reimagining the Civic Commons is working with four additional cities to create a network of civic assets in each city, with demonstrated community support and the potential to serve people of different incomes and backgrounds."
Pretty cool, isn't it? We are all so very lucky that our beloved town of Akron, Ohio is one of those five cities! And we, at Hazel Tree, are so very happy to have been asked to play a role in reimagining one of our city's underutilized public spaces, Lock 2.
So what all did we do with the Lock 2 Park project with Akron Civic Commons? We (myself and amazing co-designer, Chelsea Uhl) approached the space like we do all interior spaces - adding function, comfort, art, color, whimsy, pleasing sounds, shelter from the sun, places to eat, places to play games, and places to just sit and contemplate this beautiful thing called life.
We maximized the natural resources as much as we could and built it from there. We made it heavily art-focused and activated the trees as shade shelter and art substrates. We did simple things like painting the staircase risers to draw people up into the space and make it look intriguing from afar. We added a Little Free Library / Board Game Box so people could play a game or read a book while they sit a spell.
We paid attention to how people said they used the space already and how people said they wanted to use it in the future. So we created a public park space that became an art park and a fun place to visit. We hope you'll agree once you visit!
To unveil the new design and to celebrate the improvements to the park, the Akron Civic Commons group is throwing a Lock 2 Park Party tomorrow night, Friday, September 8!
The party goes from 6-9pm and there will be refreshments, live music from The Gage Brothers, cash bar, a craft with Akron Craft + Social Club, a community dance program at 7:00 with Taj Munnerlyn, and fun for all ages.
If you'd like to read the West Side Leader's story from today's paper, you can click here.
We hope to see you tomorrow night for the party!
Karen, Jon, and Chelsea