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Sullivan Park Reimagined
Florida Park Attracts Visitors by Land and by Sea

By Joy Robles, Shade Systems Inc.


Located along the Gulf Stream in Deerfield Beach, Fla., Sullivan Park was transformed from a hurricane-damaged restaurant to the vibrant play area it is today. The shade structures from Shade Systems Inc. are multi-functional: not only do they provide year-round shade areas for the two playgrounds and picnic area, but they also act as a landmark for boaters on the Intracoastal Waterway to access the park.

Sullivan Park in Deerfield Beach, Fla., was once an isolated and underutilized 3-acre waterfront park. It has recently been revitalized by landscape architects Bermello Ajamil & Partners and the City of Deerfield Beach into a vibrant Intracoastal recreational area accessible by car or boat.

"I think a lot of people didn't even know the park was there because it was so hidden," said Randy Hollingworth, Bermello Ajamil & Partners, director of urban design and landscape architect of Sullivan Park. "It wasn't a very recognizable amenity until we started talking about doing a master plan and bringing this concept to the community."

Since the park site was very isolated, there was very little community directly adjacent to it except for condominiums west of the site, whose residents felt the new development would affect noise levels and privacy. However, through community meetings, people began to realize Sullivan Park is the only park that is right on the water, aside from the beach, and that the new park may actually enrich their community.


The park features two separate playground areas; this one is geared towards 2-5 year olds. The structures, from Play & Park Structures, were selected by the city with input from landscape architects Kirk Olney and Randy Hollingworth from Bermello Ajamil & Partners.


The interactive water feature is intended to provide another amenity to the park that adds additional appeals to a larger audience. Interactive water features are also hugely popular and, in the sub-tropics, can be used nearly 365 days a year. It serves as the terminus of the formal pedestrian and vehicular arrival experience.

As part of an extensive redevelopment of the city's waterfront and commercial areas to the south, the new park offers spectacular Intracoastal views and includes two playgrounds, an interactive water feature, picnic pavilion, waterfront promenade, restrooms, and access to the bridge leading to the city's beachfront. The innovative Sullivan Park redesign also incorporates a small marina and floating docks, allowing uninterrupted waterfront access, attracting boaters from the busy Intracoastal to the park with safe areas to dock boats, and in turn, enjoy the park. It also features a walkway under the Hillsboro Boulevard Bridge connecting to the Cove Shopping Center.

In order to attract attention to the exciting new park, project landscape architects Kirk Olney and Randy Hollingworth, worked with Shade Systems, Inc. of Ocala, Fla., to produce a network of multi-functional canopy systems to create a dramatic visual focal point on the waterfront.

"The shade structures above the playgrounds and picnic area help to frame views out to the water and from the water back into the park. They are very monumental and make an incredible statement and they are just very hard to miss," said Hollingworth.

He continued, "We knew people would be coming to this park by boat, and the design of the shade structures was particularly important for the view from and to the water. It's almost like a landmark on the waterfront. The Intracoastal is very heavily used and we wanted to attract families not only from the land but also from the water. We wanted people to come up and dock their boats, have their kids use the playground, and the interactive water feature."

The sloped shade structure was selected to give a variety of shaded and non-shaded areas year-round.

Hollingworth expressed that it was very rewarding working with the city, Shade Systems, and the community. He believes they've developed a park that was very responsive to what the community wants and needed.


The design scheme of the playground is tied together through the earthy green, gray/silver, and tan tones found throughout in the play area surfacing, shade structures, and site amenities. City staff was instrumental in selecting the color palette. After breaking ground in January 2016, the park had its grand opening in February 2017.

"Sullivan Park is a result of listening to the community and what they had to say. It's very well used, provides people in different age groups a lot of opportunities to do different types of things, and it really has something for everyone in a very small park. It has been really rewarding for both Kirk and I to build something like this for a community," said Hollingworth

"I hear it's busy all the time. Clearly it's attracting a lot more people than just the condominium next door, but I think they are pleasantly happy and surprised at how it turned out, and I don't think they have any opposition from the neighbors now because it came out so well," he concluded.

General Contractor: MBR Construction
Landscape Architect: Bermello Ajamil & Partners, Inc. - Kirk Olney, Randy Hollingworth
Architect: Bermello Ajamil & Partners, Inc. - Scott Bakos
Civil Engineer: Bermello Ajamil & Partners, Inc. - Maria Zapata
MEP: Delta G Consulting Engineers, Inc.
City Staff: Kris Mory - Economic Development Director/CRA Director/Deerfield Beach
Kara Petty - Assistant City Administrator/Deerfield Beach
Harold Hoyte - City Landscape Architect/Deerfield Beach
City of Deerfield Beach, FL - Owner

As seen in the June 2017 issue of Landscape Architect Magazine

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October 21, 2019, 1:37 pm PDT

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