01 TBD Map Detail
Garden Park

Welcome to The Bridge District and to our inaugural e-newsletter! Celebrating the beauty and benefits of outdoor living has long been a cornerstone value for planners of our neighborhood, so we'd like to kick things off with an insider's look at TBD's enchanting green centerpiece: the Garden Park. Just one in a network of four well-connected but distinctive area parks, the Garden Park is the social crossroads for the community, the civic green. A graceful, elongated oval, it invites visitors to try their hand at gardening, play catch with the dog, join neighbors for a picnic or quietly contemplate some outdoor art. Just two blocks away, construction continues on a nearly mile-long stretch of riverfront that promises another sort of park experience: a nature walk, a bike ride, or perhaps a scenic run. Connected parks designed for different uses, we think, will make for a better, more dynamic neighborhood life. Enjoy.

The Bridge District Team

The TBD e-newsletter will be released six times annually.

theme: OPEN
A conversation with designer
David Gates, ASLA

David Gates Final
Landscape Architect
David Gates, ASLA

TBD: David, what can we learn about nature when it is presented in an urban setting?

DG: Well, parks are intentional reconstructions of nature, not nature itself. They are designed, so it is helpful to think of parks as a kind of stage-setting, or theatre, that works on two levels at once.

At one level, parks are a backdrop for a whole range of human drama, from kissing on a bench, to picnics, to the various forms of social, cultural and political events that draw a public crowd. These are activities that can't really happen in buildings, so a park is an important urban counterpoint in both the physical the civic sense--it is a place that we all can attach social memories to. That this is a natural place is not insignificant, because in representing nature a park represents neutrality--a place that belongs to us all.

At another level, the park presents the nature within it as theatre itself. The tradition of making parks has long been interested in exhibiting how the living world works. When we design a park we think about how animal life will live in this slice of nature and contribute to its growth. We think about the natural cycles of plants we choose to put in the park as kind of idealized choreography of color, texture, shade, shadow, and fragrance. These things allow us as urban dwellers to observe nature at an incredible range of scales in a very compact package. A park in an urban environment performs for us something most essential, and human: it makes time visible.

TBD: The planners of The Bridge District thought quite a lot about how to best create a network of complimentary urban parks, each with its own character. The Garden Park will be the first to be built. What will it be like?

DG: The Garden Park is an intimate neighborhood park in an elongated oval form. The shape derives from a Roman tradition and is historically known as the "circus plan." If you have been to Italy, you would recognize both the Circus Maximus and the Piazza Navone to be circus forms, although each had very different uses. Closer to home, both Curtis Park and Sunset Park in Sacramento are derivations of the form. South Park in San Francisco is another example.

01 Piazza Navone
Piazza Navona (late 15th Century), Rome, Italy
South Park (orig. built 1855), San Francisco, CA

As a park form, the elongated oval shape is ideal for creating a shared public "room" among a community of similar buildings. Although the form is traditionally derived, there are a few twists in the design of the Garden Park that make this park form relevant to us today. We've used the elongated form of the park to our advantage to create several distinct areas within it--each suggestive of a different kind of activity that adds up to a whole.

For example, in the heart of the park is a centerpiece sixteen-foot long table made of a slab of white Sierra granite. The table is surrounded by four massive olive trees that were hand-selected based on the sculptural form of their trunks. These trees are over 100 years old and will provide an exquisite leafy canopy around the table. Neighbors in The Bridge District meet, discuss and share meals here.

01 New Garden park Plan
Garden Park plan for The Bridge District in West Sacramento, CA: (a) community garden of edibles and flowering plants in raised planting beds; (b) Garden Park community table made of local quarried Sierra granite under four ancient olive trees with twenty-four foot diameter canopies

When seated at this table one can look out to the open greens on either side, open spaces, framed by pear trees arranged in an orchard-like grid. These tree lines form the edges of the park, lending the green a sense of scale that is well-suited to a range of activities like lounging, sunning, throwing a Frisbee, playing catch, or a little fetch with your dog.

At the far West end of the park there will be a community garden with raised planting beds for edibles or flowering plants.

And on the East end of the park there will be an outdoor art piece situated between the lawn and a seating area designed for both conversational interaction and for contemplation.

All of this is expressed in a design that is in dialog with the architecture of the surrounding neighborhood, and performs responsibly relative to our interest in sustainable living today. The Garden Park will be an important part of the everyday experience in The Bridge District, the place where the community comes together.

David Gates' Garden Park design is currently in building permit review at the City of West Sacramento. Construction will begin in 2011. Please visit thebridgedistrict.com in early 2011
for more detailed illustrations of the final park design.

TBD is honored to be working with Gates+Associates Landscape Architects, an award-winning
design firm based in San Ramon, CA. To see more work by Landscape Architect David Gates,
go to:


You know who they are. They make our part
of Northern California great. They are the amazing people doing amazing things: the thought-leaders, the visionaries, the artists,
the entrepreneurs. Some are well known, but many operate behind-the-scenes. Either way, they deserve a little bit of public praise, don't you think?

Email us today to nominate your "Local Wonder" and watch future newsletters to see what happens next.

01 Josh Cochran Drawing
Josh Cochran at work on an Eames Chair
coming soon:

In our January e-newsletter we will hear from Josh Cochran, the artist who penned our engaging map of The Bridge District (featured online here). No small feat, the map was painstakingly crafted to reveal how the great urban planning ideas behind The Bridge District will bloom into a real place like no other.

Don't miss our conversation with Josh, and stay tuned for details on how to get your very own color poster of The Bridge District map.

To see more work by Josh Cochran, go to:



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