Branch Brook Park

Congratulations to Rhodeside Harwell on their Merit award in the Historic Preservation category for Branch Brook Park in Newark, New Jersey.

The Branch Brook Park Alliance (BBPA) was formed in 1999 by a passionate community to restore a landscape work of art: Essex County Branch Brook Park, designed by the Olmsted firm between 1898 -1937.

Bringing neighbors, government, and abundant enthusiasm together, the BBPA’s goal was to bring equity to the underserved, primarily minority community, ravaged by the1960’sriots, and to restore the park to an exemplar of equity, ecological health, and beauty.

In 2001, following a national search, BBPA engaged a Landscape Architect leading a team of renowned historians and professionals. The first task of an extraordinary 21-year public-private partnership was a 7-volume Cultural Landscape Report (CLR) and Treatment Plans for future Rehabilitation/Restoration for the 365-acre park.

The desperate need for recreation in this underserved community required implementation to begin quickly, concurrent with the CLR process. Treatment Plans, collaboratively developed with community and government, envisioned rehabilitation of the park, provided documentation for fundraising, and supported project sequencing.

The CLR also included guidelines for future design, maintenance,and stewardship so essential for maintaining improvements. By 2022 BBPA and its public-private partners had raised and spent over $50,000,000, completing over 25 projects with funds raised for an endowment and additional upcoming projects.

A team of designers, public and provide agencies, and rooted community organizations spent decades in an extraordinary effort to bring great public spaces to life. The jury applauded this amazing effort as transforming public spaces, respecting Olmsted’s original plan while remaining updated and contemporary.