7. Park Works

Description: Park Works is a shortlisted design proposal for the Parkitecture international competition to redesign the 1500-acre Water Works Park in Des Moines, Iowa. The brief called for design speculations that could intensify the public activities and programme of the Water Works Park, a site that had been constructed to supply water for Des Moines.

Across a landscape that is almost twice the size of New York City’s Central Park – Park Works sets out an infrastructure of data collection and sharing across the park, city, and region. The information gathered from this hybrid digital-spatial-social grid would be interpreted by a publicly led governance structure – including design and management teams, users, stakeholder organisations, communities and individual citizens – to incrementally aggregate small-scale actions into a dramatic park transformation.

Rather than a single vision or masterplan, the park was imagined as a site that would always be in production. Taking cues from the dimensions of the Jefferson grid (see Public Land Survey System 1785), agricultural subdivisions that extend across the watershed of the Racoon River and through the street patterns of Des Moines, Park Works proposes a digital-spatial-social infrastructural grid of sensors to record the conditions and activities of the landscape. From this evolving base of information design decisions can be made over time.

Park Works was presented and exhibited at the Des Moines Art Center in 2011. It was exhibited at the Building Centre in London and published widely, including in Educating Architects (Spiller and Clear 2014), The Des Moines Register and The Guardian. Park Works was further developed for the Park Politics conference at BOKU Vienna (2017).

2010 – 2011
Project Studio (Ed Wall, Aaron Carpenter, Joe Sanders, Harry Bix)
Thomas Balsley Associates (Christian Gabriel)
Genus (Brett Douglas)
Frederic Schwartz Architects (Frederic Schwartz)
Green Shield Ecology (Steven N. Handel)
JP-SE (John Paul Goedken)
Snyder & Associates (Mark Land)
CPMI (Bryan Bertrand)
ETM (E. Timothy Marshall)
A Small Studio (Helena Rivera)
Room 60 (Matt Parker and Leo Thom)