Denver landscape architects/urban designers explore philosophy through film

Denver landscape architects/urban designers explore philosophy through film
The quirky Civitas short film “Bike Roll” opens with preparation for an ad lib bicycle tour of the new St. Patrick’s Island park with Civitas founding principal Mark Johnson.

Denver urban design and landscape architecture firm Civitas has released the first two in a planned series of short films to explore the multi-layered and collaborative design process behind its work while providing digital visitors with an experiential perspective on its projects.

The first film, titled “St. Patrick’s Island Park, Calgary,” provides candid in situ interviews with key design team members on the recently opened award-winning 31-acre urban oasis, designed by Civitas in collaboration with W Architecture and Landscape Architecture. A second film, dubbed “Bike Roll,” provides a fun off-the-cuff tour of the revitalized island delivered by Civitas founding principal Mark Johnson from atop a bicycle.

Community building through shared experience of the natural world is a Civitas hallmark, demonstrated in such projects as San Diego’s North Embarcadero waterfront and the Museum Park expansion at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, as well as St. Patrick’s Island. “Cohesive open space systems establish the shared meaning and communal experiences that people enjoy and remember. In our hyper-connected digital world, creating places that matter to people because they mean something personal is a powerful force,” says Johnson.

For Civitas Director of Marketing and Business Development iLana Fowler, whose pre-Civitas background includes film and television, it was that idea of shared experience that inspired the shift to film. “Film is a storyteller’s medium that connects diverse audiences and engages people on an emotional level – and it enables us to reveal the complex layers of art, science, culture and historical context that go into the making of great public spaces,” says Fowler, who created the films with Calgary videographer MEDIAPOP. “We want people to see themselves in our projects, to show them something about creating this space and, hopefully, to inspire them to visit, make their own discoveries and share it with friends.”

At the same time, the films also reveal the “offbeat and quirky” personality of Civitas as a firm, says Fowler, told through “heartfelt stories about our beliefs and philosophy and how those values continue to inform our design of public spaces.”

With a core purpose of creating healthier cities, Civitas is an idea-based practice of urban designers, architects and landscape architects engaged in strategic planning for urban change and project design for built works. Having celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014, the consultancy and design studio advises on a wide range of strategies for re-imagining urban life and places.


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