Recap: Olmsted: Then and Now | Prairie Meadows Park

Beginning in the Conservatory Green town center and culminating at Prairie Meadows Park, this tour explored the unique interconnected open spaces and parks of the Central Park (formerly Stapleton) neighborhood. We discovered how Central Park has expanded upon the work of Frederick Law Olmsted and the City Beautiful movement in order to create open spaces appropriate for Colorado’s environment. In Prairie Meadows Park, we saw how landscape architects reinterpreted gardens in response to the current climate and low-water landscape imperative.

About the parks: When Denver’s Stapleton airport was slated for decommission in the early 1990s, a group of citizens devised a plan for developing the grounds into a neighborhood that could carry on the city’s open space tradition. Their forward-thinking proposal was called the Green Book, and its principles guided the development of Central Park and other communities nationwide. As a result, the neighborhood now has a system of open space connectors between parks of all sizes and scales. Instead of following the City Beautiful tradition—with expansive green lawns and non-native plantings—Central Park’s open spaces draw from Colorado’s natural, low-water landscapes to create a native ecological aesthetic.

About the tour guides: Laurel Raines, ASLA, PLA, Dig Studio, has built award-winning projects contributing to the well-being and health of communities and the environment. A love of art and science led her to study Landscape Design/Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont, followed by a Master’s in Landscape Architecture at Harvard University. Her design for the last Central Park residential neighborhood, to be completed this year, marks 22 years of continuous work in that community.

Audrey Sorensen, Landscape Designer, Sasaki, has completed work in urban and rural contexts, in a variety of regions and scales. Audrey’s unique project background and design experience supports her understanding of historical context, developing provocative preservation strategies and performing forward-thinking historical and environmental research.