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A gap between public support and urban sustainable design is evident through acknowledging the majority of the work done in urban sustainability efforts has been led by architects and has been relatively limited. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for example was a sustainability effort developed by and for architects therefore lacks in identifying sustainable practices beyond the building. Only until recently has there been a system of identifying sustainable practices among our larger infrastructure and territory, the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) which itself has not become fully integrated within city planning and design. Sustainable landscape practices have yet to be frequent in urban cultural norms. A reason for this is may be partly due to the traditional urban parks’ ‘formal’ design specifically with distinct borders separating itself from everyday living thus adding to the disconnected impression of ecological design. A new sensitivity and outlook between ecological design and public perception needs to be examined in order to discover the links between ecological design integrity and ambiguity.

A first step towards filling this gap is to understand the existing assimilation of ecological practices within urban communities, thereafter investigating how successes may be expanded upon, and lastly filling in city-wide issues with innovative strategies to connect with a broader audience than its present. In order to tackle this ambitious assimilation a new perspective on the conceptual framework of urban park design it required. One of the ways to begin to shift the conceptual outlook is to observe city issues as opportunities to change or design accordingly. For example as industrial cities across the United States continue to decrease their populations, in cities such as Cleveland, OH, Detroit MI, and Baltimore, MD, vacancy has become a major concern. Particularly in Baltimore City currently one in nine properties are vacant 65% of which are in an area without development demand. Further, Baltimore is only the 26th worst vacancy rate in the United States, clearly depicting national concern (Hopkins, 2012). A new outlook addressing vacancy as an opportunity to build or connect with existing landscapes such as urban parks could begin to shift the assimilation.

This research will focus on a synergistic approach amongst urban park systems and their city structure. It is aimed to discover how to better synthesize ecologically beneficial landscape among community cultural language in order to generate informative influences of ecological practice throughout the public realm; through design alteration of existing public parks using an existing city-wide concern, vacancy as an opportunity to transform the ecological lens.



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