March 23, 2022

Project Highlight – Cape May County Open Spaces

We often use the tagline “Create Space With Us” to define what exactly it is that we do here. It is a nod to how we not only sell site furniture but we collaborate with our clients to create unique and purposeful public spaces. We enhance open spaces with products that invite pedestrians to connect with their community in new ways and we contribute to the design of beautiful landscapes that give a property a distinct identity.

This was exactly the case when we began working with Cape May County in New Jersey. With a long-term vision and a well-conceived Creative Placemaking Plan, authored by Designing Local, a planning and landscape architecture firm from Columbus, Ohio, Cape May County continues to realize the power of a cohesive placemaking strategy and the role that site furnishings play.

What is Creative Placemaking?

In the summer of 2019, Cape May County revealed their Creative Placemaking Plan that established guidelines for use in designing projects for public spaces funded through the Open Spaces Program. “Creative Placemaking” is an approach to community planning, urban design, and public engagement that utilizes art, culture, and design to support the area’s growth, vitality, and sustainability.

“Our Open Spaces Program works with our local municipalities to ensure that public spaces are developed with a keen eye towards aesthetics and high-quality experiences. The Creative Placemaking Plan is key to building a system of public spaces with common elements that can be attributed to the Program and its foundation of support, which is the taxpayers of the County.”

- Leslie Gimeno

PP/AICP, Planning Director

Cape May County Planning Department

With those goals in mind, Cape May County and the Cape May County Open Space and Farmland Preservation Program developed a plan to inspire the future of their region.

Project Scope

At the heart of Cape May’s creative placemaking strategy is a strong brand identity. Distinct colors, patterns, and graphic elements were chosen that represent the unique character, environment, and architecture of the region. These branding standards guide all of the site furnishings, programs, and projects funded by the Open Space and Farmland Preservation Program.

Specifically, a selection of five patterns inspired the design and direction of the placemaking families.

After determining the various placemaking needs of the parks, open spaces, and recreational facilities within the 16 local municipalities, the design team developed standards for site amenities such as fencing, gateway features, bicycle racks, direction signage, interpretive signage, site furnishings, information kiosks, observation decks, waterway access points, and shade structures.

The Role of Site Furnishings

Keystone Ridge Designs comes into the picture as the established standard for certain bench, bike rack, table set, and litter receptacle designs. With advanced customization capabilities, Keystone Ridge Designs was able to work with the design team to reinforce the branding initiatives of Cape May County, utilizing their five unique patterns. Custom colors, natural hardwoods, and intricate laser cut inserts create products that enhance the open spaces with recognizable imagery while also providing outdoor functionality. Included in the standards are:

Creekview Bench with Back with Ipe slats and laser-cut insets

Creekview Flat Bench with Ipe slats and laser-cut insets

Carson Litter Receptacle with laser cut panels

Breakwater Picnic Table with Ipe wood slats

Sonance Bike Rack

Loma Lounge chair with Ipe slats

Now and Moving Forward

The site furnishings have already started making their way into the parks and open spaces of Cape May County. At Beesley’s Point Park, the wave pattern and Sapphire blue powder coat on the benches and trash cans mimic the seaside location.

In Railroad Avenue Park and on the Dennis Township Bike Path, the leaf design and custom green color incorporated into the products reflect the woodland environments.

More projects are currently in the works and Keystone Ridge Designs territory manager, Connor Lowe, continues to work closely with the contacts at Cape May and the in-house design team at Keystone to bring these furnishings and installations to fruition.

“This initiative is a direct result of the strong creative vision from the leaders in Cape May County. Our furnishings will create striking impressions and enhance the county’s’ public spaces in a distinct way. It’s been such a pleasure to work with the architects, engineers, and county officials from inception to completion. The best part is there’s still so much more to come.”

- Connor Lowe, Keystone Ridge Designs Territory Manager

With such a well-thought-out plan and the collaborative efforts of all involved, this project will remain a highlight for Keystone Ridge Designs for many years to come and throughout the future projects in Cape May County. It is a privilege to be involved in such creative placemaking efforts and see the long-term impact on the region.