As a part of its broader economic development efforts, the City of Long Beach is transforming Harvey Milk Promenade Park and Equality Plaza (Harvey Milk Park) into an outdoor, public collaborative space that encourages creativity and interaction. From December 5 to December 16, 2016, the community is invited to test and vote on the types of furniture, charging stations, and technology solutions they would like to see at the 500-square-foot City park located at 185 East 3rd Street.
“Honoring the legacy of Harvey Milk and celebrating our LGBTQ heroes is critical to the success of this park,” said Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez. “This showcase is a great opportunity to not only reimagine the use of the park in a variety of ways but puts Harvey’s legacy into action by bringing people together.”
The Long Beach Innovation Team (i-team), funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, conducted an extensive, user-centered design process to deeply understand residents’ needs on this issue. The i-team learned how essential it is for Long Beach to activate business corridors by connecting people and institutions through more open, diverse, and inclusive public spaces for people to gather. Then they created a series of initiatives designed to address these issues and increase economic development in Long Beach. This outdoor collaborative public space is one of these initiatives.
“It’s exciting to see how Long Beach is using innovative techniques to generate new ideas that involve the public,” said Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce. “I’m looking forward to see the public feedback. What a great and creative way of purchasing outdoor furniture.”
One of the first steps the City took in moving this effort forward was challenging vendors to provide furnishing and technology solutions for Harvey Milk Park through a Furniture Showcase that will provide workspace essentials such as charging stations, shade, and comfortable seating. As the City develops and changes, public spaces also need to evolve to reflect and meet the community’s needs.
“Designers from around the world competed to demonstrate their cutting-edge furniture to the public,” said John Keisler, i-team Director. “This is an exciting opportunity for the community to co-create the future of our public spaces, right here in Harvey Milk Park.”
Long Beach is conducting this initiative in partnership with Citymart, a New York-based company that transforms the way cities solve challenges. Long Beach is also a Knight Cities Challenge winner, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which awarded the City $300,000 to help make this vision a reality at Harvey Milk Park. The City of Long Beach also received $10,000 from the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) to test augmented reality in a public place. This Furniture Showcase is one example of how the City is finding innovative ways of using public space to bring people together and out of their office buildings during the day.
Through a Request for Solutions (RFS), seven finalists were selected and will be showcasing their items. The finalists include: Nerei, a company based in Spain, dedicated to activating urban space by bridging the gap between the physical and digital space; James de Wulf from Santa Monica, a manufacturer of a ping pong table that can easily be transformed into a conference or dining table; Knoll, a furnishing company that offers modern outdoor furniture for creating inviting spaces; Soofa, a Cambridge-based company that embeds electronics into everyday city objects, such as a bench, into smart urban furniture. Others finalists include Maglin, a North American manufacturer of public site furniture that uses outstanding design and innovative use of recycled materials; Miller Hull, who pride themselves in their ability to leverage the openness and flexibility of modernist form to celebrate connections inside and out; and NRG, a company that harnesses solar energy in innovative ways to provide guests with free, clean solar power to stay connected and charged.
The Furniture Showcase will be launched on Monday, December 5, from 3:00 to 5:30 pm, and will be officially marking an 18-month-long co-creation process filled with activities that also include:
A Bike Share station is located across the street from Harvey Milk Park, and free two-hour parking is available nearby at 50 E. 3rd Street. Learn more about the Harvey Milk Park Project and the various ways to participate at www.innovatelb.com/showcase.