James Bland Pocket Park

Alexandria, VA

Bowman was hired to provide engineering, landscape architecture and survey services by Eakin Youngentob Associates (EYA) who partnered with Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) for five blocks of public housing being redeveloped as townhomes and multifamily buildings with affordable units. One of the conditions of the development was the creation of a new city park.

Bowman worked with city staff, community stakeholders and an archaeologist to develop a design that integrates a community gathering space, an active play area for children 2-5 years old, and the history of the site. Interpretive elements include historical plaques explaining the history of the site as a racially segregated public housing project and the life of its name sake, James Bland, an African American musician and songwriter in the late 19th and early 20th century, a “staff walk” and stage for impromptu and organized performances. A musically-themed, sculptural climbing mound and an ensemble of musical play equipment activate the park. The intimate and inviting park is lushly landscaped with native and adaptive plants that provide year round interest and a connection to the landscape outside of the city.