Recreation and Revitalization

Our Sight Lines series highlights how different perspectives and practices come together to deliver value for specific clients and communities, through the lens of Quinn Evans projects and locations.

In communities across the country, parks serve as places of recreation, relaxation, exploration, and gathering for people of all ages. Each July, we celebrate National Parks and Recreation Month and show our appreciation for our parks, both big and small. 

Quinn Evans’ appreciation for public outdoor spaces can be seen through our innovative project designs. Additionally, we work to ensure that each of our park projects positively impacts the community, enriches its visitors, and honors history.

A multipurpose rec center in the heart of a community: Marie Reed Recreation Center in DC

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In the heart of the Adams Morgan neighborhood in Northwest Washington, DC, Quinn Evans was tasked with revitalizing the Marie Reed Recreation Center and its accompanying outdoor space.

We transformed a 1970s Brutalist building into a more modern recreation center, incorporating design concepts that engage students, support a robust  Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) curriculum, and engender a strong sense of community. The final product was a center that houses an elementary school, health clinic, child care center, women’s clinic, soccer field, and community swimming pool.

With a colorful new entrance and streetside plaza, the property immediately became a more welcoming site for visitors. Inside the space, the floorplan reflects a neighborhood vernacular, with a large, multipurpose “town hall,” intimate “community corners,” and an internal “main street.”

Through community engagement, Quinn Evans accomplished the goal of creating a space for recreation that engages the community while providing a place to play, learn, and come together.

A place to play (splash zone included!): Belle Isle Park, Detroit

Belle Isle -- a 982-acre public park -- has been a site of recreation and relaxation for people in the Detroit area since the 1880s. As part of a restoration project, Quinn Evans rehabilitated six key historic buildings at the park, including the Nancy Brown Peace Carillon and the Belle Isle Aquarium, which had temporarily closed for repairs.

Quinn Evans was also instrumental in revitalizing the Belle Isle Beachfront, which provides a low-maintenance, environmentally-friendly community amenity accessible to people of all ages and abilities. There’s even a play area -- complete with waterslides and a splash zone -- that draws from the unique character of Belle Isle.

An exciting, immersive experience: National Zoo in DC

At the National Zoo in Washington, DC, Quinn Evans was tasked with creating a natural, sustainable habitat for seals and sea lions that was accessible for all visitors. Evoking the coastal environment of the Pacific Northwest, this exhibit gave zoo visitors both underwater and above-water viewing. 

Quinn Evans Principal Katie Slattery, AIA, LEED AP, explains how this design ties in with the firm’s commitment to diverse perspectives.

“It was designed with visitors of all abilities and ages in mind,” she says. “We were making sure that the varied and diverse viewing experiences provide opportunities for all to enjoy their time learning about these magnificent animals and being transported to the tranquility of the Pacific Northwest while rooted in the majesty of Rock Creek Park.”

Katie also mentions how this exhibit includes accessible paths through the area that allow visitors to comfortably move about as well as places to rest, relax, and expand their knowledge of the animal residents.

Biking through civil rights history: honoring 30 key sites in Detroit

In Detroit, many historical sites associated with the civil rights movement have unfortunately been lost over the years due to urban renewal projects. As a result, the sites that do remain have even more of a cultural and historical significance. 

Quinn Evans collaborated with an advisory board of local Black historians and held a series of public engagement meetings to gather information from the local community and evaluate civil Rights sites in Detroit for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. 

The end result was a bike tour around the city that highlights 30 of the most significant civil rights sites in the Detroit area, creating opportunities to learn and honor history as they bike through the city.

Recreation unites communities

Whether it’s through revitalizing a community center, creating more opportunities for recreation, developing immersive learning experiences, or finding creative ways to honor history, Quinn Evans is committed to bringing communities closer together through enhanced recreation. 

What comes next?

In our Sight Lines series, we will continue to tell the story of One Firm through the lens of specific sites and locations. We will highlight how Quinn Evans works with clients to create more than just a physical building and highlight how different perspectives and practices come together to deliver value for specific clients and communities.

Thank you for joining us as we explore the Sight Lines that connect us all.

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