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ICON Parks Design
Dorchester, Mass.

ICON parks design (IPD) is a sole proprietorship directed by John Ryther, ASLA. IPD's public sector work has included civic plazas, streetscapes, bikeways, parks and playgrounds in Boston and its outlying communities. IPD has also worked internationally in Jordan, Iran and China on projects ranging from new towns for laborers to high-end communities and villas for the wealthy. Ryther has designed for Heritage State Parks, incorporating elements like play equipment, pavements, fencing and signage. He is also known for unique, decorative ironwork designs for gateways, fences and fountains.

Dorothy Curran Playground Dorchester, Mass.

The Dorothy Curran playground at Joe Moakley Park serves the South Boston community by accommodating users regardless of mobility issues. The design encourages wheelchair access to the core play areas through accessible ramps and walkways. Transfer stations have been incorporated to encourage these children to further explore their play environment, strengthening their bodies and freeing their minds of the shackles that restrict their movement. Braille and signing diagrams are depicted on activity panels to encourage communication among children of all abilities. Fragrant plants have been included in a rain garden to enhance the experience of blind explorers.

The playground's nautical theme takes inspiration from its close proximity to Boston Harbor. The play structure has been designed in the form of an old sailing ship and a lighthouse. Special attention was given to pavement color, painted graphics and flowing shapes to strengthen the allusion to water. The spray feature is crafted as large seaweed that comes to life when activated by the children. A teeter boat and a musical turtle reinforce the theme.

Festival Plaza, Auburn, Maine

John Ryther, then a principal at ICON Architecture, led a team of designers that won a design competition sponsored by the city of Auburn, Maine, for a central downtown area that would encourage future development and present a bold image for the city. Ryther continued with the design and construction administration when he opened his own firm, ICON parks design. The civic plaza and streetscape is a multipurpose public arena, around which Auburn's downtown core can grow and thrive. The project consists of flexible open spaces where residents, workers and visitors can partake in many activities throughout the year, including cultural events in the summer and ice skating in the winter. The project provides handicapped accessibility from Main Street down to a trail that runs along the Androscoggin River.

Julia's Garden, North Attleboro, Mass.

Julia's Garden, located within North Attleboro's World War I Memorial Park, was funded by Julia Cekala's parents in her memory. The space takes its inspiration from Julia's personality and her wonderment at the simple beauty of the natural environment. The garden is lushly planted with native flowering trees, shrubs and groundcover. The decorative stainless steel gateway, butterfly fountain, and site furniture reflect simple pleasures like playing in fallen autumn leaves, chasing butterflies, and admiring the park's free roaming peacocks. Woodland trails lead visitors through a variety of experiences, from rough and tumble play at the fire tower's cable net and hillside slide, to a flight of the imagination at the bronze unicorn, and finally, to a sand play area complete with gazebo, dock, and colorful beach chairs.

Zhongkai Sheshan, Shanghai, China

The concept for Shanghai's Zhongkai Sheshan gated community is built around the complementary design themes of "Nature and Sustainability" and "Feng Shui for the 21st Century." The result provides the atmosphere of a nature resort and a place for tranquility and contemplation. The design offers a strong sense of community and high-quality amenities, while insuring privacy and security. The site was re-sculptured and graded to become its own watershed, with water (stream, pond, and canal) touching each individual villa parcel. ICON parks design was responsible for streetscape design, re-sculpturing the site, and the creation of water features, nature zones and villa walls. IPD also provided site design work for the clubhouse, guest house and seven of the 79 villas.

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October 13, 2019, 6:43 pm PDT

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