MY JAX PARK
Envision your future Jacksonville Park!
JAX PARK is a celebration of the city, its community, and the river – a park that will inspire thousands to visit, live, and enjoy downtown like never before.
JAX PARK is an urban catalyst that will spark economic development, and reconnect the communities of the south bank to the north bank of the river – foregrounding the importance of this spectacular urban space – as the new epicenter of Jacksonville. This is a place to reconnect to the river, elevate civil discourse, to lounge, to go on a date, have a business meeting, attend a concert, grab something to eat, or simply to read a book in the shade – a place for everyone.
A Park Inspired by Regional Ecosystems
When we first visited Jacksonville and the former Jacksonville Landing site – we were fascinated by the rich and diverse ecosystems that once existed in what is now the city of Jacksonville. These ecosystems continue to thrive in areas surrounding the city – such as the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. We feel that this visceral connection to our ecological history we feel is important to understanding and improving the health and well-being of our environment.
The Grasslands Artwork by Ned Kahn
The Grasslands, a kinetic artwork by Ned Kahn, is the heart of the park, providing a vivid and transcendent spectacle of joy and awe. A sense of a new beginning. It is a cable-net structure with thousands of polycarbonate pendulums that move in the wind, responsive to every small gust. Each pendulum responds individually, making the air currents visible, much as grasses do along the Florida rivers and coastlines. Instead of thinking about this project as a park with artwork in it, we think about creating an environment, an entirely immersive experience. What if the entire park felt like it was underwater with gentle waves of a forgotten sea washing over the landscape again? We thought about a field of soft grasses, partially submerged, bending with the waves. What if we inverted this watery landscape, raised it up into the atmosphere so people can walk underneath? Suggestive of the ripples of huge falling raindrops, this circular structure would create the impression of being underwater. Looking up at an inverted landscape of grasses swaying in the currents, people would glimpse the memory of a forgotten landscape. These inverted fields would cast undulating shadows onto the people and ground below, creating an immersive light show, sculpted by the invisible currents. Suggestive of the dappled shade of a forest or the way light bounces off of water, the space beneath the wind-animated canopy would create a cool and relaxing micro-climate, encouraging people to linger and reconnect to the calming effects of nature. The entire park would become a restorative aqueous landscape.
As a result of the community engagement and research, we have designed several landscape rooms – each of these rooms hold the possibility of a distinct passive or active program, allowing for a diversity of experiences for everyone – all pivoting from the central lawn and the immersive grasslands artwork by Ned Kahn. These rooms are organized by the experience of moving from city to river, from north to south, and from performance to play as you move from west to east. The character of the program of each of these spaces nests into this larger thematic strategy.
The plaza space to the north is more urban, organized by a more formal planting. The maritime forests create an immersive ecological and indigenous Florida landscape, allowing for shade and microclimates during the hottest months of the year. The maritime hammocks are also an immersive, indigenous landscape – a more primordial experience with cabbage palms, pine trees, and live oak driftwood – a unique and authentically Jacksonville landscape. Within the St Johns river in the coastal marsh – a floating wetland providing habitat for birds, fish, and microorganisms.
The River Fountain is adjacent to the residential building – the café spills out into the fountain– creating a dynamic and engaging urban playscape environment – a cooling environment. The water feature is designed with a series of water jets that produce a collection of arcing waves, choreographed with patterns that seemingly never repeat – a playful space for children, parents and people of all ages.
Bartram’s Garden is dedicated to William Bartram, a naturalist commissioned to explore and collect the flora and fauna of the Jacksonville area. We intend to plant many of the species that Bartram discovered while visiting this area here in the gardens. Bartram’s Gardens is designed to host programmed events like Jacksonville Zoo’s outreach program ‘Zoo to You’. The generous space is surrounded by a perimeter bench – allowing for events to be held in the middle while visitors watch and engage from the edges.
The River Playscape emerges from the maritime forests, with a manatee play structure nestled in the trees, offering an educational opportunity centered around these protected mammals that call the St. Johns River home. The manatee calf and mother play structures are climbable and feature slides, nets, and ropes.
The Birdhouse Skate Park, is a nod to the skate culture in Jacksonville – named in honor of Tony Hawk’s Birdhouse Crew. The skate park is modular and able to also hold other events or programs if needed.
The Maritime Hammocks are adjacent to the Riverwalk, closest to the St. Johns River. This landscape is immersive, primordial, and an incredible experience. This coastal ecosystem is an educational opportunity featuring the pine trees, and cabbage palms typically found along Florida’s coast. The space includes a large live oak driftwood lying on its side– like a prehistoric dinosaur – providing a sculptural but functioning ecology for birds and microorganisms.
Embedded within the maritime hammocks is Bartram’s Amphittheater. This driftwood amphitheater is an opportunity for casual lounging, educational classes or performances throughout the day or night.
Rivers Edge Gallery
The Rivers Edge gallery is a collection of artworks by Erin Kendrick – foregrounding the importance and connection of community, culture and people to the river.
Artist Ya La’Ford designed ‘Centripetal’ a spherical steel biohut nested within the Estuary Marsh, attracting microorganisms, shellfish, and small fish. Centripetal acts as an incubator, nurturing aquatic life and improving biodiversity within the St. Johns River.
Thank you to the community and the city of Jacksonville for letting us get to know you. We are excited about the opportunity, this place, and its people. We have designed a park for Jacksonville that we would love to visit – we hope you agree!
Thank you to our team.
You can also share your ideas about your future JAX Park in the comment box below!
It was so nice to meet local community members at the Jax River Jams Concert Series and hear what you are looking for in your future park. We learned that residents would like to see more activation and have more activities to do downtown in general. We look forward to hearing more from you.
Meet Our Team
The OLIN team is thrilled and honored to be one of three finalists for the Jacksonville Northbank Lawn + Riverfront Plaza competition. We have a talented team ready for this incredible opportunity to design a transformational, vibrant, and equitable park in the heart of downtown Jacksonville!
OLIN, Pond & Company, Ned Kahn,
6ft Away Gallery, Erin Kendrick, Carl Joe Williams, Ya Levy La’Ford, Acuity Design Group Inc., Biohabitats, L’Observatoire International, Fluidity Design Consultants, Silman International, Consultecon