THE BUFFALO OLMSTED PARKS CONSERVANCY HAS SELECTED A BOSTON ARCHITECTURE FIRM TO HELP DETERMINE THE FUTURE OF ITS SOUTH PARK ABORETUM RESTORATION STUDY.
Kyle Zick Landscape Architects (KZLA) was selected from four qualified finalists following a national search.
The firm will be tasked with a feasibility study that takes into consideration the original 1894 design of the park, including whether to maintain an existing nine-hole golf course or relocating the course to another site.
Stephanie Crockatt, executive director of the conservancy, said KZLA’s proposal stood out, including a thorough and innovative approach, coupled with a strong public engagement plan. She told Business First the conservancy is thrilled to be able to fully develop the arboretum, which was never fully completed after Olmsted’s death. The golf course was added to the park 10 years later, which actually helped protect the landscape from further development or industrial uses.
“South Park is probably our truest Olmsted park when you consider the original design,” Crockatt said. “This is a feature that Olmsted rarely did, and since we have this rare opportunity and have his original drawings intact, it’s an absolutely fabulous opportunity to design a landscape he had intended to be part of this park.”
Conservancy officials said KZLA demonstrated expertise in landscape architecture, arboriculture, historical and ecological preservation and the engagement of multi-disciplinary teams.
Previous work by KZLA includes historic landscape projects throughout the Northeast, including Boston’s Emerald Necklace Conservancy, a 900-acre Olmsted-designed park system; as well as projects at the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Valley Forge, Gettysburg and John Adams Historic Site.
The firm was selected by the conservancy’s South Park Arboretum Restoration Project committee, led by Richard Griffin and David Colligan. In a media statement, Griffin said restoration of the historic arboretum provides a “rare opportunity” to consider the redevelopment of one of the Olmsted firm’s largest arboretum designs.
“It was clear from their proposal that Mr. Zick and his team are going to be the best consultants to help us realize our vision for the restoration potential of the arboretum at South Park,” he said.
Moving forward, the firm will work with the city and conservancy committee, as well as partners that include the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. A series of community events will be held over the next nine months to solicit input, beginning with a public meeting this fall. Later the firm will analyze both plant collections and ecological sustainability as well as educational programming and sustainable funding alternatives.
South Park was designed by the firm of Olmsted Olmsted and Elliot in 1894 as a botanical garden and arboretum set in a 155-acre setting. The conservancy manages the 850-acre 850-acre citywide system of six parks, as well as parkways designed by Frederick Law Olmsted as the nation’s first urban park system.
The conservancy has previously said it would spend close to $18.5 million on restoring South Park as part of a broader $430 million, 20-year master plan. The initial plan called for spending $300,000 for a feasibility study to explore a brownfields golf course on Hopkins Street adjacent to the park. The return and restoration of the arboretum was confirmed as a priority project.
The plan does not include the cost of actually restoring the arboretum and possibly moving the golf course, which will likely be determined after the feasibility study.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen in the park yet, how much remediation might have to be done and if we were to take this to the full extent that Olmsted had designed, what a true tree museum would cost,” Crockatt said. “We are ear-marking this as being a big project for our 150th anniversary in 2018.”
The study and final report are expected to be completed by July of 2017.
Tracey Drury covers health/medical and nonprofits