Kentucky Irving Pocket Park

Green Infrastructure, Community-Driven Art and a Youth Focused Park Space are Packed into a Quarter Acre

As part of the Via Verde project in which Stream and the Trust for Public Land worked to develop a plan for providing a safe, healthy, equitable and culturally relevant route through the Westwood Neighborhood in Denver, several priority projects along the route were identified for immediate implementation. The Kentucky Irving Pocket Park emerged as one of the first priority projects because it was an open parcel of land available for park development and it is located at a dangerous intersection in the neighborhood where children had not been able to cross safely to get to middle school, which is adjacent to the site. The site had also been a dangerous location for past gang activity and as an expression against the violence, Westwood artists had painted a mural on tall fence on the site to represent the two predominant neighborhood ethnicities – Hispanic and Asian – coming together in peace. This is represented by the symbology of the Quetzalcoatl and dragon.

With this inspiration – and with vital input from the community through a series of outreach events called ‘fiestas’ – Stream developed design alternatives for the pocket park that are focused on youth and that expresses the rich cultural heritage of the neighborhood. The feedback from the community lead the design team to a concept that includes hangout ‘chill’ areas with custom shade shelters and swinging benches, ‘skatable’ features, a half-court basketball court and perhaps most important, custom art that is integrated into the design throughout. The art can be seen in the canopies of the shade shelters, inlaid patterns in the walls and metal cutout art pieces on the fence panels – all of which have been custom crafted to the designs generated by the Westwood artists, which in turn, represents the diverse culture of the community.