Project Description

Howard Park

Michael_Singer_Howard_Park_thumb

West Palm Beach, Florida, 2002-2009

In September 2002 Michael Singer was the recipient of a grant from the Palm Beach County Cultural Council for a residency at the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach. While there, Singer decided to focus his residency on the adjacent park to the north- Howard Park.  Howard Park is a historic community park in West Palm Beach along Okeechobee Boulevard, one of the main streets in the city, and a gateway into the downtown. Singer implemented and led Imagining Howard Park, a creative exercise involving a community participant group consisting of regional artists, design and planning professionals, historians, anthropologists, students and members of the general public. The result of the residency was an exhibition Imagining Howard Park that explored the convergence of numerous social, historic, commercial, cultural and environmental characteristics and opportunities at the site. The exhibition was accompanied by a collaborative document containing guidelines for a plan and a vision for Howard Park. Imagining Howard Park showcases opportunities that create a sense of place specific to South Florida by transforming the existing mundane park into a place that celebrates the unique subtropical environment and its ever diversifying population. A key component of the design is a massive re-vegetation of the site with native plants to regenerate the land and create distinct spaces for serenity and discovery as well as discreet areas for recreational activity. The design also included concepts for urban gardening, a native plant nursery with a mobile distribution truck, generating power with solar pv shade canopies, a water filtering retaining wall and interconnected trails for pedestrians, bikes and canoes. The project design extended the park concepts to the Okeechobee Boulevard medians and explored connecting the park and the adjacent convention center to an outdoor mall to the north over the boulevard with an Orchid Bridge.

In 2005 Michael Singer Studio was involved with a feasibility study that was conducted to determine the costs and phasing of each of the project elements within the 13 acre park. The feasibility study was then used to prioritize and phase the project over many years as funding becomes available. In 2008 construction documents were created for project phases 1 and 2.

The first phase of Howard Park was completed in 2010 leveraging flood mitigation funding from the State and the City to reshape a highly visible retention pond as gateway to the City. The first phase of work replaced large swathes of unutilized lawn with a waterscape of interconnected ponds edged with native vegetation. The expanded pond now retains additional stormwater to reduce the potential for flooding of adjacent residential neighborhoods. The retention pond was historically known as the Turning Basin in which boats transported food from western agricultural areas into the City. Later project phases will add significantly more vegetation, pathways, lighting, small bridges and historic interpretation of the importance of this little known pond. When complete the waterscape will also serve as an educational tool to reveal the extraordinary Renaissance Project for stormwater recycling that is connected through Howard Park and the historic Turning Basin.

Artist/Designer: Michael Singer
Singer Studio Project Team: Trevor Lee (Conceptual Renderings 2002-2003),
Jason Bregman (Project Manager 2005-2008), Peter Nobile at SBRA,
Richard Rabinowitz at American History Workshop, Dolores Root,
Dan Muggeo at Daniels and Robert, Teresa Jabour and Jane Day
Engineering: Calen Colby, Marc J. Larochelle and Mercer Bonney at
Oest Associates Inc., and Galand Beard at HDR
Landscape Architecture: Rosenberg Gardner Design
City Project Manager: Joan Goldberg
Original Project Sponsors: Palm Beach County Cultural Council