Ursa International

Brook Run Park

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A new life for Brook Run

In 1998, DeKalb County, Atlanta, Georgia, purchased Brook Run, a former hospital and nursing home for the mentally ill, from the state. In January 2001, a $150,000 grant was awarded to the Dunwoody Preservation Trust by DeKalb County to develop this master plan for the 102-acre property and the EDAW team (including Ursa International) was awarded the contract. 

An essential component of any community’s quality of life is the opportunity for recreation and experiencing the outdoors. Brook Run offers 102 acres of existing infrastructure and buildings that can be transformed into a symbol for DeKalb County’s vitality and character. The purpose of this master plan is to guide Brook Run in developing the property into a first class nature oriented and educational facility. Like all plans, however, the master plan is only effective if it is used. It is critical that the plan be a living document that reflects and is able to adapt to discussions and decisions by policy-makers and community stakeholders.

The master plan, although very specific in many aspects, must also be flexible in order to respond over time to community and financial needs. Some of the proposed directions can be implemented almost immediately; others may take many years. The master plan transforms the 102 acres of green-space, vacant buildings, and paved streets into an urban oasis while focusing on education, nature, art, and recreation.

The specific goals of the master plan are to 1) create a signature community park with passive recreational and educational opportunities; 2) develop places for community interaction; 3) protect the environmental resources; and, 4) recommend financial resources.

The Master Plan developed three main thematic areas, including:
Nature's Way
• Nature Education Center
• Cape Brook Run Dorms
• Aviary Garden
• Horticulture Center
• NatureTrail
• Stream Restoration
• Picnic shelters
• Adventure Garden
• Skate Park
• Nature Trails
• Multi-use Court
• Picnic Meadows
The Arts
• Brook Run Theater
• Administrative Offices
• Veteran's Memorial
• Arts House
• The Great Lawn
• Nature Trails
Key Program Elements include:

The Aviary Garden: The design process revealed a need for a major animal oriented component would be a wonderful compliment to the nature oriented site. The Aviary was conceived as a separate non-profit geared to bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts.

The Great Lawn: A central "Green" was envisioned to be the communities "backyard" with linkages to the arts and music programming, this venue would provide a setting for summer music festivals and art shows for the community. This location was perfect, as it was already cleared and central on the site.

Children's Adventure Garden: One of the loudest voices during the public meetings was from the local families looking for a Adventure Playground. This fit nicely with the natural setting and turned out to be the first project funded and built at Brook Run.