Building the Community Design School at Flushing Meadows Park is a must-read for anyone interested in community-driven design. The publication lends an inspiring look at how an inclusive, educational, design-oriented planning process can turn park-users into park-leaders.
Seven million people annually visit Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, the home of both the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs, despite the fact that the park has not been seriously updated for the past 50 years. With its confusing circulation paths and outdated fairground design, Flushing Meadows Corona Park does not meet the users’ needs.
Given Flushing‘s unique nature as one of the most ethnically diverse places on earth, the questions arise: What does the community want and how does the City find this out? The Design Trust for Public Space, in partnership with the NYC Parks Department and the Queens Museum, created the Community Design School for The World’s Park: Reconnecting a Regional Park with Its Neighbors project, to work with local residents in the planning, design, and stewardship of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The Community Design School at Flushing Meadows Corona Park pioneered a new model of participatory planning in Queens, the nation’s most diverse county. Over the course of twelve weeks, Community Advisors from the surrounding neighborhoods gathered to analyze, plan, debate, and design new ideas for the park’s biggest challenges. The School demonstrated a different kind of community planning process, one that empowers community members to formulate and initiate the improvements they want to see in their park—not just react to outside plans.
Introducing the reader to The World’s Park project, the publication outlines how the School came to be, provides the political context of the park, and describes the classroom structure and lessons plans of the School.
Sam Holleran, Participatory Design Fellow
Date: December 2015