Designing Equity: A Landscape Architect’s Vision for Inclusive Spaces

What does “equity” mean in our daily work as landscape architects? It means…

A park for all. Queens Park will be an iconic park that will bring a burst of energy and new life into Charlotte’s downtown. Imagine a revived gathering place for residents to celebrate the surrounding culture and community of numerous neighborhoods currently separated by the existing railyard, connecting people to people with this central park.

Accessibility for all. Social equity involves ensuring universal access to and enjoyment of the landscape’s benefits, irrespective of age, ability, income, race, gender, or background. This entails crafting environments that are safe, inclusive, and inviting to all individuals, offering a diverse range of activities, amenities, and services. Dix Park Stone Houses and the Sculpture Plaza at NCSU were both challenging sites that required thinking outside the box to achieve accessibility for all.

A playground for all. Inclusive play extends beyond mere physical access to an environment; it considers the experiences and activities available to individuals. By providing inclusive environments and fostering the skills for children of all abilities to play together independently, we nurture a sense of respect, encouragement, and activity during play—both physically and socially. Keeley Park is Greensboro’s first fully inclusive playground.

Housing for all. Through our designs and advocacy efforts, we are committed to creating spaces that promote equity, inclusion, and social well-being for generations to come. Through thoughtful planning and design, we break down barriers and create environments that foster social cohesion and interaction among residents. Integrating inclusive features and universal design principles, such as barrier-free pathways, accessible amenities, and sensory-rich landscapes, makes our projects welcoming and accessible to people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

A street for all. Equity in street design means creating inclusive and accessible thoroughfares that prioritize pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit users. We create streetscapes that promote active transportation and social interaction with features like wide sidewalks, bike lanes, and green infrastructure to improve safety and connectivity.

Open space for all. Equity in open space design involves ensuring that every community member has fair and inclusive access to recreational and green areas. As Fayetteville continues to revitalize its central business district, the Center City Parks and Trails system provides an opportunity to connect activity hubs with the natural and cultural resources located throughout the inner city. This green ribbon of parks and open space will connect underserved neighborhoods to downtown, Fayetteville State University, Botanical Gardens, African American heritage sites, and cultural amenities through a transect of restored natural ecosystems, open space, and parks.