Fearing & Hagenauer
International Friendship Park
Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park
What if a park by design could teach equality and respect for all cultures, encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to meet and interact, and use art, ecology and garden to express universal ideals of peace and friendship? The design of Cincinnati's Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park, named in honor of the city's first African-American mayor and foreign ambassador, emphasizes the things that bring people together. The park was envisioned to give life and purpose to an underutilized strip of land along the Ohio River.
A multidisciplinary team of landscape architects, architects, environmental graphic designers, and artisans collaborated throughout the design creation process. From a local perspective, the park needed to honor local river ecology, connect riverfront parks and trails, and highlight the city's international relationships. From a global perspective, the park needed to honor and celebrate cultures. The concept of the park celebrates the natural linear river setting by creating a "friendship bracelet" with charms on the bracelet as major features.
The bracelet includes two interwoven paths designed to symbolize the paths of man and nature, while also encouraging people to meet. Throughout the park, the landscape and graphics honor the cultural and natural symbols of different continents. Each intersection has a garden identification featuring a cast bronze medallion inlayed with symbology from that culture. Along the paths, iconography is cast into concrete artfully textured with plant and animal prints indigenous to that continent. The charms were designed to honor earth, wind, fire, and water and were conceived as sculptural features.
The park entrance is highlighted with a 24-foot wide flowing pinwheel sculpture. Each aluminum fin emerges from the landscape in a multicultural array of color. The park name appears as a jewel-like braid with the word "welcome" in eight languages. The columns punctuate the plaza, honoring the park's namesake. The park is a canvas where the wonder and drama of the global village can be explored and enjoyed by all.