Pennsy Pocket Park

Recently, I learned of a new Pocket Park project being launched in Irvington by Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.  The park is located to the south of the Marsh store, along the Pennsy Trail:

Image Credit: Google Maps


The KIB webpage linked to a photo of the park’s construction, which is obviously in the early stages:

Image Credit: Brian Burtch, via twitter
Image Credit: Ben McGhee
Image Credit: Ben McGhee

I contacted Ben McGhee, who helped to design the park to find out some more information.  He sent along a few renderings:




Ben McGhee, Brian Burtch, and Chris Stuart of Design Authority answered some questions I had about the project:

1. Where did the reclaimed material originate?

In early discussions, KIB was interested in exploring low cost design solutions for various seating applications, both at their offices and also within this park space along the Pennsy Trail. As a result of these discussions, KIB came into contact with the city about previously discarded limestone curbs the city had in its possession from curb replacement projects dating all the way back to the 70s. When Design Authority received word of the quantity of these existing limestone curbs, we immediately latched onto these as a design opportunity, not only for a simple bench, but actually to become the driver for the entire green space design.

2. How did the partnership with KIB come about?

Originally, KIB reached out to industrial designer and the DA co-founder, Christopher Stuart to design seating and a play area for the Irvington green space. After seeing that the plans also called for a rain garden and was to be a community space for the passionate people of the neighborhood, Chris realized that it could be the perfect project to officially kick-off the DA. This would allow Irvington and KIB the opportunity to work with a diverse group of designers from fields ranging from architecture and landscape to product design and, in turn, it would give the DA the opportunity to expand beyond simply brainstorming ideas and design discussions to designing and building the collective’s first public outreach project.

A brief description of the design.

The design is based off the module of the reclaimed curbs. We created a pattern of stone benches and steps that encourages users of the Pennsy Trail to flow from the trail into the space. Within the space exists multiple zones designed to facilitate gatherings of different sizes and activities. The entire space is held together by a cedar and gravel framework that informs the placement of the limestone curbs as well as the various plantings, and this organizational structure allows for the bleeding together of both hardscape and softscape, seating and plantings. The use of this modular framework allows for the hardscape to begin to break down and extend into the adjacent rain garden, a space full of a diverse selection of native plantings meant to aid in the alleviation of the immense stormwater runoff from the adjacent parking lot.

3. What’s next for Design Authority?

The Design Authority is still in its infancy. The idea and concept of the DA has existed within the group for quite some time, but the challenge is always moving from idea and concept to reality. As we have worked on this outreach project, the DA has had the opportunity to better understand, define, and sculpt who we are and what our purpose is as an organization. As designers who are passionate about design and Indianapolis, as we move forward we will be continuing with the belief in good design and the ability for design to be a driver in the betterment of our city. We have many ideas still in their infancy, both in self-initiated work and in potential collaborations. Whatever comes next, though, will be driven by design and by the desire to empower the local design community and the entire Indianapolis region.

Our mission statement:

The Design Authority is a collective, consisting of designers from diverse industries, brought together by the shared idea that design should be an authority when solving issues within our community.

Together, we Discuss/Solve/Propose/Implement creative solutions in an effort to bring design to the forefront of our city.

We are a voice with reason.

4. When is the rest of the Pennsy Trail going to be completed?

We are not familiar with the planned completion dates for the Pennsy Trail, but the city is currently working on its Greenways Master Plan, of which the Pennsy Trail is a part. For us, being that this is the first designed greenspace along the trail, it is our hope that this space can become the precedent for future development along the trail and inspire future projects to capitalize on these often under-utilized and under-designed pockets that exist along the entire planned trail and, frankly, throughout the city. The DA does not see these spaces as problems but as opportunities; opportunities to create a sense of place and purpose.

Comments 10

  • I don’t know if anyone saw it at Get Down On It, but there is also a pocket park along the Cultural Trail on the Virginia leg at Merrill St by the Mozzo apartments. It is currently in the construction phase and is being spearheaded by KIB.

    • I saw that park getting constructed with a bunch of volunteers. Months ago, I was hoping some enterprising developer would see it as creative micro-infill, but I guess a pocket park is still better than an ignored, completely unused lawn.

      • Be careful what you wish for! It was almost developed and it wasn’t going to be pretty.

        About three years ago, the owner of that parcel was approached by the owner of the adjacent Costume Shop building (where South of Chicago is). The Costume Shop owner wanted to turn it into a parking lot with three spaces and a dumpster.

        Fortunately, the owner of the parcel did not want this to happen so the HOA for the Merrill St Townhomes (which is where I lived up until about a year ago) and Canfield Row (the adjacent condos on Merrill St) ended up getting it in a quitclaim deed transfer.

        After that it was used sparingly by Calvin Fletcher Coffee Company for live music occasionally, but it is really nice to see it absorbed into the Cultural Trail.

  • Forgive my ignorance, but what is “the DA” that is references throughout the article. I didn’t see it spelled out anywhere, but maybe I missed it beyond differing it is a group of professionals with design and engineering background.

  • Is the park going on the north side of the trail, or the south side?

    And is there really an airplane in the front yard of that house on Kenmore Road?

    • North side of the trail.

      That is an airplane. Occasionally aerial photos will catch other planes in mid-flight, which is the case here. Always gets a laugh whenever I see it.

  • It’s good to see progressive landscape design here. Especially in our common, everyday spaces.

  • Irvington Terrace neighborhood is working with KIBI on this Pennsy Trail park. They have had a partnership on this and other projects such as: planting trees in the Eastgate cloverleaf, adding trees and flowers to East Washington Street and cleaning up trash along the Pennsy trail for the last 3 years.

  • There is another pocket park just east of the DQ. When finished, it will include benches and a bike rack, taking out a few parking spaces.

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