Back and Front Community Ecologies for the City of Gainesville

Project Objective

Lincoln Estates is located in Southeast Gainesville, Florida. The proposed project advances public health initiatives to encourage walking, running, and other aerobic recreational activities through leveraging civil infrastructure and ecology management to enhance the health and quality of life for neighborhood residents.

Lincoln Yard reclaims community through the development of public space and promotes fitness by providing highly desirable activity, recreational, and education infrastructure. As front-back ecologies, the yard engages the social and intimate, technologies and native, public and private, and the natural and constructed through integrated design strategies that leverage resources towards effective space making and public use.

Uses include community gatherings and events, physical fitness through walking, aerobics and strength facilities, sports and recreational activities for multiple age groups, environmental awareness through ecological stewardship, sustainability through community gardening, emergent technologies and design, knowledge generation through research and the promotion o multiple funding opportunities arising from these centrifugal initiatives. Lincoln Yard proposes long-term master-plan visioning, spatial organization, innovative design strategies and specific program elements to be initiated as an individual community park.

This approach allows collaborative funding and cooperative construction initiatives to be proactively sought out. Lincoln Park integrates the latest approaches that engage neighborhood residents in productive and healthy community activities, integrates energy generation with the definition of civic space, deters crime through observation and occupation, and combines natural and constructed habitats to promote diverse and robust nation ecology.

Project Development

Front-back community ecologies adapt the residential yard typology to the scale of the neighborhood reconciling the adjacency between Lincoln Yard and the neighborhood back yards. The park design provides a civic front yard to SE 8th Ave and a community back street for physical, recreational, and more casual community activities.

Front: a parking/market garden is provided as a civic foyer to allow cars and nature to interact and to support produce stands and community gatherings. Photovoltaic panels are promotionally integrated here providing shade, and rain shelter while harvesting sunlight to produce electricity during peak electrical demand periods – symbolic of the progressive neighborhood.

Project Design

A community living room is provided for indoor gatherings, meetings, and events that visually frame the community backyard. Back: sport, fitness, gardening, and recreational facilities are deployed strategically utilizing natural and storm water infrastructure and plan materials to promote movement throughout the site while avoiding excessively circuitous routes.

Many naturally weedy vegetable gardens are provided to engage the community in productive recreational activities. Sports facilities include field events, gymnastic equipment, and basketball courts. A recreational pavilion is included for large outdoor events, family picnics, or for protection from sporadic afternoon rain shows. Aerobic and strength areas are created as natural rooms in the landscape that promote fitness and provide destinations along with a variety of walking trailed experiences. Walking trails include a civic promenade, a meandering path (hard surface) through the site, and more circuitous nature trails (natural surface) to maximize alternative routes and possibilities for engaging multiple path types on a single walk.

Field Sport Catchment

Storm water catchments are incorporated as field sports areas during the dry season also allowing large gatherings for public events conducted from the recreational pavilion. Shade is organized toward the edges of the field.

Features: Gathering, Field Sport (football, soccer), Large Community Events (1000 people), Storm water Catchment, and Recharge

Recreational Pavilion

A platform (stage) and backdrop for public events such as concerts or sports awards ceremonies doubling as a shelter for family outings, small group picnics, and other festive outdoor occasions is provided. Photovoltaic panels comprise the roof to generate electricity while providing shelter and shade. Translucent fabric allows filtering light to penetrate the space in the day and radiates light at night as a luminaire in the landscape.

Features: Cultural Events, Picnicking, Protection from Rain Showers, Photovoltaic Solar Harvesting, Figural Illuminator (provides evening lighting)

Community Living Hall

The Hall acts as a community living room visually opening out to the site as an observatory connecting community gatherings to the Yard. Two administration offices and restrooms are provided. Storage and mechanical equipment are in the basement below.

Features: Gathering, Meetings, Educational Courses, Aerobic and Fitness Classes, Social Events, Cultural Events

Civic Foyer

The civic Foyer invites people to gather under the photovoltaic shade canopy marking the entry to Lincoln Yard. Storm water garden vegetation and shade trees provide habitat for butterflies, birds, and land animals. The prominence of the foyer will attract vegetable vendors and residents as a natural meeting place.

Features: Gathering, Auto Parking, Produce Market, Bake Sale


The CDC and the Governor’s (Jeb Bush) Task Force on Obesity reported that 31% of Americans are clinically obese, those living in sprawling areas are 6lbs heavier than those living in urban areas and 57% of Floridians are overweight. Cardiovascular disease – related to poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle – is exposed to surpass cancer as the leading cause of death in the United States. Hospitalization, treatment, and lack of productivity related to obesity and excessive body weight are estimated to cost the public billions of dollars in the next decade. Lincoln Estate’s demographic populations have high rates of Type II Diabetes.

This has prompted the CDC to study community design to address this serious health threat and prompted public health philanthropies such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to direct substantial resources to measure and implement strategies toward reducing this trend.

Strategies identified by these agencies encourage more physical activity in our daily lives. Recommendations include the incorporation of routinized activities such as bicycle commuting and daily physical activities such as walking and recreating. The focus of these efforts must include the youth as excessive weight is increasing at the highest rates in this group.

Lincoln Yard applies CDC recommendations for recreating activities establishing pedestrian paths, and aerobic activities establishing pedestrian paths, aerobic areas, sports facilities, and natural area public amenities to promote healthier community lifestyles. Strategies incorporate diverse activities through all ability levels and age groups ranging from toddler to senior. Vegetable and herb garden plots to promote investment in healthier foods, establish a routinized destination, and engage gardeners in productive physical activity.


Ecological strategies utilize natural vegetation such as trees, vines, mosses, and ground cover to organize spaces as natural or constructed supporting events and activities. The site has a variety of natural ecologies including xeric (dry sand) and hydric (moist loamy) zones. Strategies that enhance the vegetative and animal polyculture focus on the cultivation of butterfly and bird species, enhancing supportive native plants, and removing invasive plants. High oxygenation plants and utilization near the meditative, gardening and transitional spaces (including evening bloomers that transform the evening space) advance the unique character of these specific natural rooms.

Hydrocarbon absorbent plants utilized in the stormwater catchments and pond edges trap petroleum runoff before it seeps into the aquifer. These reedy and abrasive plants also provide a natural barrier for people rather than sequestering the water from animals behind a chain-link fence. The wet catchment is connected to the adjacent creek to capture water flow- promoting a healthier hydrologic ecology.

Flowering and butterfly habitat plants such as Maypop (Passiflora incarnata), False Indigo (Amorpha fruitcose), White Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias perennis), and Redbud (Cercis canadensis) are cultivated to attract colorful butterfly species such as Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius), Dog Face (Zerene cesonia), and Ceraunus Blue (hemiargus cerauntus).