A Shining Essence for the Next 100 Years
Beloved by the Ashland community, Lithia Park is as central to the city’s identity as is the annual Oregon Shakespeare festival, which might be more well known to nonresidents. A challenge for the design team was identifying the essence of the park and developing a plan to protect and amplify that. Through a community-based process, the MIG team, which included experts in historic landscapes, hydrology, ecology and engineering, developed four key concepts:
- The Meander Concept. Visitors move from the town to the wild along “McLaren’s Meander,” a series of braided pathways named for the park’s first designer. They pass through five zones, each with distinct landscape rooms and experiences.
- The Creek Concept. Salmonids can return to Ashland Creek, with enhancements to fish habitat and the floodplain, and a dam removal.
- The Canopy Concept. The new vegetation management plan includes six landscape palettes, with historic plantings in each zone, along with climate adaptation, resiliency and wildfire risk plans.
- Circulation Concept. Traffic taming, green infrastructure and encouraging multiple modes of travel anticipate future transportation technologies.
Extensive community involvement included an online map-based survey about how people get to the park, where they go and what they do, and a Design Week, a multi-day open studio with working sessions and formal and informal community feedback. “Lithia Park: The Next 100 Years,” is now a guide for the Ashland Park and Recreation Commission, ensuring that Lithia Park continues to shine as Ashland’s jewel for the next century.
The plan won an Oregon ASLA Award of Excellence for Analysis & Planning.