Lydia Major, LHB
Recently completed Shoreview Commons, an innovative playground upgrade in Minnesota, intermingles play areas and plantings in ways that boost fun, enhance resilience, and foster human connections with the environment.
The City of Shoreview, north of St. Paul, Minnesota, is known for its lovely parks and open spaces. In 2018, city officials hired LHB to update the master plan for Shoreview Commons, which surrounds City Hall and the community center. The goal was to make the civic space feel and function more like a central park that could serve the whole community.
LHB's Landscape Architecture and Planning Studio worked with city staff to develop a design for the Commons that includes a fountain/skating pond, gardens, trails, skatepark, playground, and parking lot improvements. We designed a park that offers recreational opportunities for an increasingly diverse community, while planning for a sustainable future with efficient water and energy use and improved stormwater handling. The project significantly increased the year-round functionality of the park, complementing the activities going on inside and elevating the park to a community-wide attraction.
As part of the Commons redevelopment, a destination playground was added. It features not only swings and hill slides but also ziplines and a challenge course for older teens and adults. More important, the play areas are threaded through with raingardens, trees, and pollinator-friendly plantings-which illustrate how recreational enjoyment and functional environments can coexist. A treehouse tower, with climbing adventures over 20 feet high, features concrete sculpted from actual tree bark that conceals small creatures its nooks and crannies-a detail that reinforces the delight that comes from connecting with nature.