Did you know that July is Parks and Recreation month? Did you know it’s been celebrated for 30 years?

We’re lucky to have Matt Wilder, ASLA, LEED AP BD+C, Director of our Landscape Architecture group, to champion Parks and Recreation here at Pond.  He takes his commitment to recreation and conservation seriously. It shows in his office where he works via a desk lamp instead of the overhead fluorescents and in his dedication to alternative transportation.  Matt’s design philosophy is rooted in the human experience – to create places with an environmental ethic, designing for longevity, and creating regenerative landscapes. By developing landscapes and places that consider the health of the environment and the health of the community, now and into the future, he and his team offer sustained experiences and the opportunity for regenerative landscapes to flourish.

Originally a Physics major, Matt switched to Environmental Sciences and something clicked.  For over 15 years now, he has dedicated himself to his parks and rec clients and is currently the president of the Georgia chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Previously, he served on the Freedom Park Conservancy Board of Directors for six years.

Every client is different but Matt is consciously aligned with their mission and can appreciate and understand their goals.  He recognizes that the profession is a “slow job” where the landscape is constantly changing and evolving.  Designers like Matt must be engineering oriented to anticipate these challenges and design spaces for people to enjoy for the next 50 to 100 years.

In honor of the month, we wanted to highlight Matt’s favorite projects- there isn’t enough space for all of them so we narrowed it down <with much difficulty> to three.

DH Stanton Park

Matt is particularly proud of the sustainable development practices that distinguishes this project.  The design included a native or naturalized landscape palette, organic maintenance techniques and the handling of all stormwater on-site. Large stones that were excavated were re-used as natural climbing and sitting elements. The team designed a shade structure that uses photovoltaic panels as a ‘roof’ and sells power to the grid during the day and allows the park to buy back less expensive power at night. Energy saving LED light fixtures were incorporated into the design as were the use of many recycled product construction materials. DH Stanton Park was completed in the spring of 2011 and is the City of Atlanta’s first truly sustainable park.

Park goers can enjoy a league-ready baseball field with a concession stand/scorekeepers facility, a splashpad, a natural playground area, a tot lot, seating, restrooms and a gazebo. The park also features commissioned public artwork by Robert Witherspoon who has been producing major sculptural artworks since 1990 and is local to the Atlanta area.

Cabbagetown Park

The reason this park exists is a testament to the community that surrounds it.   After completing the Masterplan in 2005, Matt says it is rewarding to see it mature over time.  Cabbagetown was once a home to Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill that began operations in 1881. At its height, the mill housed and employed more than 2,000 people until it closed in 1977.

The surrounding community was actively involved in the entire design process. Their goal was to create a park that would be environmentally sensitive, aesthetically pleasing, and would last for generations to come. Selected materials played an important role in meeting their design goals, as well as complementing the historic neighborhood. Georgia granite was used to construct the seat walls and retaining walls throughout the park.

Today the park is host to the wildly popular annual Chomp and Stomp, a popular neighborhood playground, an amphitheater, a grand old oaktree- or two- and numerous paths and seating areas.  From a mill town to working class neighborhood to trendy neighborhood on the beltline, this park is a historic treasure in the City of Atlanta.

Cloudland Canyon State Park

The Lula Lake Land Trust works to protect and preserve the properties in the Rock Creek watershed that runs along Lookout Mountain. The Trust, in conjunction with Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Cloudland Canyon State Park, is a first of its kind public-private partnership for the park system.  Pond was selected to develop a master plan for the Cloudland Canyon Connector Trail to connect the Land Trust and DNR properties. The master plan includes a multi-use trail plan, aka the Connector Trail, as well as a mountain bike trail system and a back country challenge hiking trail, all on State Park property.

The trails open up the state park to a much broader area and the connectivity provides access to nature for more people to enjoy.  There are beautiful hiking trails, waterfalls and caves to explore and is a favorite amongst hikers in the South.

Cloudland Canyon State Park consists of the Cloudland Connector Trail, approximately 7 miles; Hiking Trail, approximately 2 miles; and Mountain Biking Trails, approximately 9 miles.

For more Pond Parks and Rec projects click here.

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