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.
Susannah joined The Bay team when the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization selected Sasaki as the project’s master planning design firm in 2016. Since then, Susannah has been integral in every step of the master planning process, from initial design meetings to community engagement events and more. Susannah now joins Gina Ford at the new design studio, Agency Landscape + Planning, and remains the project manager for The Bay. We interviewed Susannah to learn a bit more about her background, her love for public parks and how she envisions the future of The Bay.
Can you share a bit more about your background, experience and personal story?
“With my background, I have extensive experience managing complex urban landscape design and construction. I am truly passionate about the design of public open spaces in urban settings and exploring the potential of landscape design to enrich the daily life, health and wellbeing of city dwellers and urban ecology, and to shape the core identity of a city. I welcome the challenge of designing to meet a diverse set of interests in a complex physical context. Prior to joining the Agency, I was a Senior Associate with Sasaki, where I worked for 16 years on various projects.”
What is your favorite park and your contribution or role in development? What were some important design elements and the biggest challenges you faced?
“It would be impossible for me to pick a favorite project. All of the projects I’ve been able to realize, as part of a team, involved transforming lifeless, abandoned, and/or neglected spaces into welcoming, thriving places for the community to come together.
Whether it was Schenley Plaza, Ithaca Commons, Hanafan River’s Edge Park, or Einhorn Family Walk – all bring something special to the community. I was the design team project manager for each of these efforts, and nothing fills me with more pride and joy than looking through the before and after pictures of these places to see how we made beloved civic gathering spaces where none, or almost none, existed before.
What excites you about The Bay Park design/plan, process, and team? What is your favorite and most rewarding part of the work?
“It is no exaggeration to say that The Bay Park is the project of a lifetime for me and for this design team! Everything we see in this project spells success and tells us that we will help achieve the vision of an iconic, accessible and environmentally sustainable waterfront park for the City and the region. This includes:
- The seeds of this effort in the community, dating back years before we were even involved
- The extensive outreach and conversations with the community we have been fortunate to be a part of
- The stunning site with so much potential to better serve all of the people of Sarasota
- The extremely qualified team at The Bay Park Conservancy being on the ground every day to lead efforts in outreach, fundraising, and implementation
The careful planning that has gone into this effort from the very beginning has set it up to succeed in a way that many aspirational master plans for public open spaces do not! It could and should be used as a model for other cities and I feel blessed to be a part of it!”