BridgePark is a park for the community, by the community. Richmond BridgePark Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) organization established to steward a bold vision for our City and riverfront. We believe community spaces and connected neighborhoods can bring us together and move us forward. We also believe that the compelling stories along the BridgePark path may help us better understand one another as we envision a future Richmond.
To date, we have involved a wide array of Richmonders with intention, favored stewardship over speed, responsiveness over rigidity, and thoughtfulness over ease. Over the course of the project, the Foundation has conducted hundreds of meetings with community members to mine and test our community’s best insights and ideas.
During the project’s 2015 ideas study, more than 30 City departments and community organizations tested a 14-foot long architectural model with the architecture team to provide feedback for the final recommendations of the study. Preliminary study results were then presented to over 100 stakeholders, gathering another round of comments. The Foundation then hosted three open community meetings in 2015 to outline the ideas and receive further reactions and suggestions, before getting back to work on the recently completed Vision Stage.
In order to best communicate the vision and test it with the community, the team expanded the site model and launched another travelling exhibition. The model is 28-feet long, covering a wide expanse of downtown Richmond. In total, the Foundation has installed the site models in 21 different locations in neighborhoods throughout the City and continues frequent public dialogue about the project and the best aspirations of Richmonders.
Community engagement focuses in particular on our City and region’s young people. While planning for a future elevated park, we pursue a present elevated RVA. Like the park one day, our mission today is for the benefit of our young people; we see both as the future of Richmond. In partnership with educators throughout the region, we developed and implemented an adaptable project-based learning curriculum for students of all ages (so far, from 4 to 40). Focusing on big ideation, problem-solving, design thinking, product development, art, engineering, and math, we use the BridgePark process to demonstrate various methods for tackling a design problem. In most cases, the students (and educators) learn the most in hands-on implementation exercises: researching, analyzing, prototyping and building tiny park or building models. As the park planning advances, the curriculum will also advance, delving deeper into math and engineering as more technical aspects of the park are developed. Thus, we and the community learn alongside one another every step of the way.
Education partners have included Spatial Affairs Bureau, Partners in the Arts, The Collegiate School, Chesterfield Innovative Academy for Girls, Chesterfield County Public Schools, Henrico County Public Schools, Powhatan County Public Schools, The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, Oakwood Arts, Art 180, ACE Mentor Program, AIA Virginia, 1708 Gallery, Storefront for Community Design, VCU, and numerous others. To date, BridgePark programs have included over 1,500 students and educators, throughout the region.