The Hackberry Creek corridor is a cherished green space in one of the older parts of Highland Park. It has been a neighborhood destination and place for children to explore and play for generations. The study area for the project begins at a storm sewer outfall west of Byron Ave. and runs generally southward until it flows past Armstrong Ave. into Connor Lake. MESA and the design team was tasked with surveying the site and performing an analysis to determine conceptual design solutions for erosion control systems, restoring channel banks and walls, bridge abutments, and headwalls that are deteriorating. Restoration and preservation of the architectural stone bridges and landscape within the creek corridor and parks were to be considered as well as enhancements such as walkways, benches, lighting, irrigation and other site amenities. The team conducted thorough research of the corridor’s physical condition and surrounding influences, uncovering many layers of historic, cultural, and ecological influences. This included assessment of the historic bridges, channel walls, and other architectural elements present. Additionally, the design team identified and delineated a series of “experiential zones” in the corridor and parks. Each of these zones is significant in its relation to the form of the corridor and visitors’ corresponding sensory experiences. Understanding these experiences is critical to propose enhancements appropriate and appealing to the residents.
The Master Plan identifies and organizes various projects into five initiatives: preservation, restoration, reconstruction, reestablishment of natural plant species, and enhancements. Important projects include developing preservation and restoration guidelines for architectural elements; landscape and tree preservation guidelines for the corridor and adjoining public property; restoring the Oxford pedestrian bridge near the end of Oxford Avenue; re-envisioning the Lexington Avenue parking area and pedestrian tunnel; and the reconstruction of the Beverly Avenue and Miramar Avenue street crossings over the creek.