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Honor Award Winner

Project Name:  Green Bay Playfield Renovation 
Location:  Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Design Team:  Milwaukee Recreation & Site Design Group

The bulk of playfields within the City of Milwaukee were constructed between 1920 and 1960. Many playfields have witnessed minimal to no improvements since the initial construction, while both time and use have only exacerbated the deterioration of these recreational facilities. Recently, a local organization has made it a priority to upgrade its 52 playfield facilities to meet the present community demand and remove the existing hazardous, crumbling facilities. At the beginning of the playfield renovation project, the organization developed an equity prioritization index, which functions as a road map for equitable capital reinvestments at Milwaukee’s most underserved playfields. This data-driven approach aims to alleviate the chronic and intentional disservices that numerous neighborhoods are subject to within the city.

This organization is dedicated to addressing park inequity, including at the recently renovating Green Bay Playfield. Not only does the renovated site provide significantly more useable park space, it is now filled with quality and accessible programming elements. It also addresses the communal health elements that are frequently absent in underserved communities, such as inaccessibility, lack of safety, shade, and cooling opportunities. Working to actively alleviate these disparities within the park design process through universal design standards, careful review of lighting levels, providing custom shade structures that also serve as a visual beacon from the street, and a splash pad that is integrated into the overall design of the site features. The result fosters a greater narrative and prime example of environmental justice. Residents of the Milwaukee metro area are amongst the most segregated in the nation, and the impacts of equitable reinvestment have had a profound impact already. It is well-studied that proximity to quality park spaces has been shown to help increase positive health outcomes, strengthen community bonds, and reduce crime rates, all of which are pertinent topics in the community today.

Throughout the design and community engagement process, excitement grew and additional stakeholders came forward to advocate for additional programming and extending the original boundaries of work from 2.4 acres to 3.6 acres. The extended scope provided stormwater capture, renovated basketball courts, asphalt games and a quiet council ring. This effort provided a more inclusive space for a broader user group. The Green Bay Playfield project stands out through is the planning method implemented to pinpoint the playfield for capital renovations. The equity prioritization matrix model keeps equity at the forefront of decision-making. This model was created to accommodate the context of Milwaukee and its playfield system. It assesses the physical condition of each playfield, neighborhood characteristics, and population characteristics; all of which are comprised of several metrics to help gauge the lived reality of each playfield.

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