Sasaki - Bonnet Springs Park, a gift to the community
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Bonnet Springs Park, a gift to the community


Landscape  /  Completed

The site’s status as a brownfield was a primary factor influencing the design process. Rather than exporting the contaminated soil or capping the entire site–two options that would have been costly and with negative off-site impacts–the team incorporated a remediation strategy as an integral component of the design. This decision would go on to inform nearly every aspect of the project, including mobility, microclimate, noise mitigation, and architecture. Perhaps most noticeably, the remediation strategy drove the creation of a hilly topography rarely found in Florida, which is now one of the park’s defining features.

Bonnet Springs Park welcomes visitors from throughout the city and connects neighborhoods currently divided by transportation infrastructure and gaps in the urban fabric. New walking and bike paths, welcoming entrances, and integration of transit boost accessibility. A two-mile long pedestrian loop–the Circulator–curves around the upland plateau, ushers visitors down to the wetlands and lagoon, and defines the Park’s four main zones.

The two major water systems within the Bonnet Springs Park site faced environmental challenges. Lake Bonnet is the most polluted lake in Lakeland, and Bonnet Springs Valley, which drains into Lake Bonnet, was experiencing an accelerated rate of erosion along its banks. In response to these challenges, a diverse set of green infrastructure strategies were employed to capture, redirect, and mitigate the on- and off-site watersheds. The new hydrological regime diverts drained water into a new pipe and brings it to a lagoon, preventing erosion of the spring corridor. This design approach improves water quality and helps restore a sensitive ecosystem.

When Lakeland Railyard, a major freight hub in Central Florida, closed in 1952, it abandoned an industrial landscape that had been degraded since the 1880s. In 2015, recognizing that metro Lakeland is one of the fastest growing regions in the country and building upon the city’s strong tradition of parks and natural areas, local enthusiasts proposed the creation of a new central park. Completed in 2022, Bonnet Springs Park is the result of an extensive community outreach, master planning and design process led by the landscape architect and a multidisciplinary team to create an ecological jewel, a cultural magnet, and a connected community asset. The park features heritage gardens, a canopy walk, botanic gardens, playgrounds, and an event lawn. Walking and biking paths connect major park spaces with three new buildings. The design remediates the former industrial landscape and restores natural systems–removing invasive exotic plants, treating stormwater with wetlands and bioswales, and capping contaminated soil in large hills that also function as overlooks. The park welcomes diverse visitors and reinforces links to previously disconnected neighborhoods.

Bonnet Springs Park is a public, community asset built with private funds. It is free and open every day of the year, and is truly a gift to its community.


 Florida, USA
 Bonnet Springs Park, Inc.
 679872 mq
  130,000,000.00 $
 Anna Cawrse - Design Principal (Site); Zach Chrisco - Principal in Charge (Site), Lead Civil Engineer; Andrew Gutterman - Managing Principal; Fiske Crowell - Principal in Charge (Architecture); Ashley Pelletier - Project Landscape Architect; Chris Hardy - Project Landscape Architect; Caitlin O’Hara - Graphic Designer; Liz Kaminoh - Interior Designer; Steven Engler - Project Civil Engineer; Michael Frechette - Project Architect; Lucca Townsend - Project Architect; Cecilia Hardy - Interior Designer; Marta Lucila Rosso - Project Architect
 Rodda Construction
 Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design; Geosyntec (remediation consultants); Lunz Group (local architect); Kimley Horn (local civil, permitting, traffic consultant); BR+A (MEP Engineers)
 Jeremy Bittermann; Matthew Arielly


At Sasaki, we believe defining the future of place must be a collective, contextual, and values-driven exercise. We all have a stake in this work.

For seventy years, Sasaki has brought together the best of architecture, interior design, planning and urban design, space planning, landscape architecture, and civil engineering to shape the places in which we live. Out of our Boston, Denver, New York and Shanghai offices we are defining the contours of place and redefining what’s possible along the way. Today, we are a diverse practice of over 300 professionals who share a singular passion for creating authentic, equitable, and inspiring places.

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