New Short Films by Urban Design and Landscape Architecture Firm Civitas Get Inside Ethos of Designers

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Denver-based landscape architecture and urban design firm Civitas has released two short films that reveal the multi-layered design process behind the creation of its award-winning St. Patrick’s Island park project in Calgary. The films are the first in a planned series of films to provide an experiential behind-the-scenes perspective on the Civitas design philosophy in action.

Two new short films created by Civitas reveal the making of downtown Calgary’s recently opened award-winning St. Patrick’s Island park.

Film enables us to reveal the complex layers of art, science, culture and historical context that comprise the best public spaces.

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.

The true value of a large-scale open space project such as St. Patrick’s Island can get lost through traditional photography, no matter how beautiful the images, explains iLana Fowler, Civitas Director of Business Development and Marketing, who created the two new films with Calgary videographer MEDIAPOP. “For Civitas, the final product is not intended as a static artifact but rather is about creating great public spaces that are meaningful. To me, the ‘making of’ is a much better story than the final money shot,” she says. “Film enables us to reveal the complex layers of art, science, culture and historical context that comprise the best public spaces.”

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

For 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,” she says. “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 share something about Civitas as a firm, told through “heartfelt stories about our beliefs and philosophy and how those values continue to inform our design of public spaces,” Fowler says. Just as important, both films reveal the firm’s “offbeat and quirky personality,” she adds – especially in Johnson’s ad lib presentation in “Bike Roll,” filmed as it occurred in real time in a bike ride through the newly opened St. Patrick’s Island park.

About Civitas:
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. For more information, visit http://www.civitasinc.com.

Media contact: Anne McGregor Parsons, WordenGroup Public Relations, anne(at)wordenpr(dot)com, 303.777.7667

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