By Kerry McGinley
The park used to be filled with static displays of aircraft and the occasional visitor. But the PAE team at MacDill transformed the MacDill Memorial Park into an award-winning outdoor space that brings the community together to commemorate Air Force history and seaside recreation.
“It’s like a living park,” said Evangeline Baulch, PAE Programs and Engineering Services manager. “It’s a unique project that brings different communities together. It’s not just for the military, but it’s also an opportunity to interact with the public outside of the base.”
The new park recently won the Honor Award for Landscape Architecture in the 2019 U.S. Air Force Design Awards Program.
“Every year, the Air Force has design awards in three categories; we won for landscape architecture,” said Senior Architect Rene Rodriguez. “I actually received a call from one of the jurors that it was a unanimous vote.”
Baulch and Rodriguez worked with a team of PAE architecture and engineering professionals to create the winning concept. Palm trees line the entrance, which includes a mosaic of the Army Air Corps logo. The amphitheater area hosts the new Air Force logo. Memorial bricks pave the path to views of Tampa Bay.
“The idea is that the entrance becomes a timeline of the history of MacDill Air Force Base,” said Senior Architect Rene Rodriguez. “This is layered. It’s set up so that each of the wing commanders has something they can add to it.”
The current wing commander had historical plaques installed, Rodriguez said. Future plans include scaled-down statues of aircraft rather than the full-sized static displays common in other military installations.
The redesign was developed with input from the former wing commander Brig. Gen. April Vogel. She told the PAE team she wanted a park that could be enjoyed by the entire community for different functions. It’s now a popular spot for tourists, base residents and families, Baulch said.
“There are individuals and units around base and people around base who are interacting with (the park) in different ways,” Rodriguez said. “I think it’s very conducive to that environment because of its location. It’s a beautiful view. The more memorial pieces that get added over the years, it’s just going to encourage more and more interaction, so I’m excited to see it develop.”