Designing Bay Meadows’ Parks and Open Space

Bay Meadows is about to turn a significant corner – the dedication of its final park, Landing Green. For Kevin Conger, President and CEO of CMG Landscape Architecture, the milestone is huge. Responsible for design of Bay Meadows’ parks, streets and open space, Kevin and his team at CMG have created an elegant, cohesive network of sustainably designed parks and plazas.

Kevin’s passion for and commitment to vibrant civic, public space and sustainable environmental design have benefited projects such as Crissy Field and Treasure Island, as well as the several University classes and studios he has taught. While his work has taken him throughout the world, Kevin feels a deep connection with work and life in the Bay Area.

The in-demand designer was gracious enough to take time out of his hectic schedule to bring us up to speed on his work, his thoughts on design and the significance of Bay Meadows.

What inspired you to begin your career in landscape architecture?
I began to get involved in the industry at 17. I had met a young landscape architect and he gave me a job drafting, getting just a bit of exposure – that was in 1980. I began in construction, was interested in art and design and I just stayed with it.

Your firm works on a great variety of projects for a mix of clients. What was the particular attraction to the Bay Meadows project?
It is emblematic of the exact types of projects we want – entailing long-term relationships with groups of people, clients, communities, city agencies. It’s not just a project that gets built and we’re gone. It is one we can stay involved with and feels like we’re partners or stewards. I feel as though I’m on an extended mission with the Bay Meadows team.

On the process of designing Bay Meadows…
Together with the Wilson Meany team, we went around and looked at parks, critiqued them, studied what we liked, what we didn’t like. We all agreed we wanted to build a place that really worked for people. And on the streets, we wanted a place that was an open-space network. And it would be a place not just for people who lived there, but for the broader community, for people from other parts of town and from the region.

Rendering for Treasure Island

Rendering for Treasure Island

Just for fun:

What are some elements in your landscaping at home?
I have a lot of plants that attract hummingbirds, which are quite lovely. I have a vegetable garden that I work on quite a lot and that produces a lot of food. It’s what I like to do, really … in addition to surfing!

What are you currently reading?
A book by Tom Bissell called The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made. It’s the story of this wealthy, eccentric guy in LA who self-financed this movie. It turns out to be one of the worst films ever made, a complete disaster, but then it becomes a cult hit.

And what are you currently listening to?
I have this large and eclectic record collection, as in real vinyl. I’ve sort of got a record studio out in my backyard, complete with outside speakers. My music ranges from old, old blues to Hank Williams to Aretha, gospel and then some stuff I grew up with, like Led Zeppelin.

Bay Meadows is a family-friendly neighborhood with lots of green space to enjoy all year long. Whether its growing your own vegetables in a gorgeous community garden with expert guidance, playing a game of pick-up basketball after work, team building over bocce and beers, or picnicking with friends and family on warm summer nights for Movies in the Meadow,there’s no shortage of green space to explore. If you have little ones, don’t miss Momdays on Mondays in Paddock Park!