Meet the Team is a series of interviews featuring the various professionals on our project team – both in-front and behind-the-scenes – who regularly provide valuable input, countless design iterations, environmental surveys and much more. Without these talented individuals, we would not be where we are today in realizing the possibilities of The Bay Park.
Steven moved to Sarasota in 2017 to lead the City of Sarasota’s planning department. As Planning Director for the city, Steven’s focus is on the “big picture” for city planning, which includes managing a building boom, transportation issues and other growth-related topics. He has been integrally involved in The Bay project and serves as an Ex-Officio board member for The Bay Park Conservancy. Over his 39-year career in city planning, his work has received countless local, state and national awards. We interviewed Steven to learn a bit more about his background and what excites him about the future of The Bay.
Can you share a bit more about your background, experience and personal story?
“I grew up just outside Baltimore, MD, and loved the Chesapeake Bay, truly one of the great bodies of water in the world. I attended the Georgia Institute of Technology both undergraduate and graduate, and received two Master’s degrees, one in City Planning and the other in Architecture. I also studied for a year at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
During my career, I’ve worked in both the public and private sectors. My experience in the private sector was in Maryland and Georgia, including being the Managing Principal of HOK Architects in their Atlanta Office. While at HOK, we won the international design competition for the Center of Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA.
In the public sector, I’ve been Planning Director for Anne Arundel County, MD; Fulton County, GA; the City of Atlanta; the City of Madison, WI; Arlington County, VA; and now the City of Sarasota. Some of my major accomplishments include laying the groundwork and urban design for the Atlanta Beltline, the rural new urbanist community of Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, GA, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic District in Atlanta, the first Smart Growth Comprehensive Plan in Maryland, the revitalization of East Madison, WI, Sarasota’s national award-winning historic preservation program and, of course, The Bay project.”
What is your favorite park and your contribution or role in development? What were some important design elements and the biggest challenges you faced?
“My favorite park is Tuileries Garden in Paris, France. It is the ultimate in urban park design with its unique location, busy activity spaces, spectacular fountains and public art, and amazing landscaping and topiary. So many parks today have fabulous designs, but many times you find that few people go there. This is not the case with the Tuileries. Whether you want to just relax, float a toy boat in a fountain, play boules, people watch or observe the activity in the Place de la Concorde, grab a treat from a vendor, go to the nearby Louvre Museum or walk along the Seine River, there are many things to do and enjoy. The urban design is masterful in how it’s framed by great buildings and the Seine River. This park truly has it all, and it’s used by thousands of people every day.”
What excites you about The Bay Park design/plan, process, and team? What is your favorite and most rewarding part of the work?
“The most exciting thing about The Bay Park is that it has the chance to be another Tuileries Garden. It has the opportunity to become not only the place to go in Sarasota, but the place to go on the Gulf Coast of Florida. To date, its design is unlike any other you’ll see in the US. The circular boardwalk is so unique and will be a major draw for those who want to relax, watch a sunset, look back at the city, kayak, and much more. As it evolves as the location for a new, state-of-the-art performing arts center, it will place Sarasota prominently on the ‘must see’ and experience agenda of the performing arts enthusiast. Finally, to create a park that attracts people from all walks of life – and not just one segment of the population – is the ultimate challenge. Like the Tuileries, we have this opportunity and it’s exciting to think that I’ll be playing a key role in its evolution.”
Can you also share any other public parks that you have worked on?
“I’ve worked on a lot of park projects in my career in locations such as Annapolis, MD; Atlanta and Fulton County, GA; in Serenbe, GA; downtown Atlanta and Midtown; the East Side of Madison, WI; Crystal City, VA; and now The Bay. None of those projects were the size of, or have the potential impact of The Bay, which is another reason why this project is so special. We have a chance to truly make a difference, and to do that, The Bay is the way!”