Defining Parameters from Precedents
The studio investigated existing strategies for inventory and assessment of urban park/greenspace conditions successfully used in other major cities--Chicago and New York City offered particularly useful models for "scoring" current conditions into a consolidated letter-grade report card for each park. This was an important first step in generating data for equitable distribution of open space resources and maintenance allocations as well as developing strategies of our own for measured changes--including up-grades, new acquisitions, and possibly de-acquisitions of open spaces. The proposed changes would be based on collected data, evolving urban conditions, financial resources, and projected urban growth or contraction.
Splitting into Groups, Picking Sites
After synthesizing precedent research and developing our own set of report card metrics into a scoring rubric, the studio divided into five groups. Each group was assigned a city council district in which to focus their report card efforts and was given a master list of parks for the district. They then organized the lists by acreage, categorized them according to relative scale (small, medium, and large), and selected 15-17 parks for on-site assessment, with equal distribution across categories. After parks were selected, a uniform scoring rubric was provided for each group to study in preparation for their site visits.
One the Ground Evaluation - Cards, Photos
Over the course of a few weekends, the groups visited, took photos of, sketched, assessed conditions, wrote down observations, and evaluated the selected parks in their district. Each member of the 3-person team scored each park on a 0-5 scale for a range of site conditions (including anything from general impressions, to cleanliness of facilities, to hydrologic and vegetative conditions) and made notes justifying their score. These site visits were crucial to making the report cards both qualitative and actual, and they helped each student to make more thoughtful, experientially based decisions in their later individual work. Discussion followed the initial visit with members of Parks For All.
Compiling Data, Crunching Numbers
After returning from our site visits, the groups compiled their raw data, typed up their observations, and then averaged the numbers to produce an overall score for each category and the park as a whole. Below are the PDFs for the 15-17 parks selected in each district, given individually then averaged for a District-level score. Access to the raw data for each assessment can also be provided upon request.
Report Card Summaries (PDF)
Park Score Summaries (click to enlarge)
Below are tabulated scores by council district, adjusted to conform to the traditional 100-point "report card" scale with letter grades. Viewing results in this way further revealed the complexities of quantifying park conditions, and prompted discussion about how this process may be improved upon in the future.