In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill devastated the Gulf Coast. In Alabama, beaches were closed, and the economic impacts were long-lasting. Gina Ford, while a principal at Sasaki, led the landscape development of a long-term master plan for the restoration of Gulf State Park – an impacted site, one of the region’s most significant natural resources and the largest Alabama State Park.
The plan focuses on expanding access to the park’s diverse experiences and helping more visitors learn about the region’s special ecosystems. Early implementation included site design and implementation for new facilities: a Lodge (designed by Lake Flato Architects), an Interpretive Center and Learning Campus (designed by Architecture Works), extensive trails and park-wide landscape improvements and dune restoration.
Though most visible in the burgeoning dunescape at the park’s oceanfront edge, the entire 6,000+ acres of the park is the result of thousands of years of coastal action and sand accretion. Uncovering and restoring this dune ecosystem – from the ancient dune ridges that form the structure of the park to the recent restoration of its front line – is a rich story and unique design opportunity. Using techniques pioneered by park naturalists, a series of new dune restoration projects will enhance the beach’s ecology, make the process of sand ecretion and dune formation more visible and allow limited low-impact access to and education for park visitors.
Boston Society of Landscape Architects. Merit Award in Analysis and Planning. 2019