By Delle Willett
Landscape architect Michael Brennan has been honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects, San Diego chapter (ASLA), for his pro bono work to make the Hillcrest Pride Flag and LGBT Monument a reality. Brennan was honored on July 9 when the ASLA held their bi-annual Design Awards via Zoom.
Brennan’s involvement began in 2011 with the community idea for a Pride Flag and the Hillcrest Business Association’s (HBA) need for a landscape architect.
Brennan was engaged during the process of synthesizing the community-generated idea into a fully envisioned project proposal as well as garnering public input, fundraising and gaining approvals for construction from the city.
Brennan commented, “This project was a demanding multi-year engagement with our client, the community and contractors, resulting in a transformative space that is evolving to this day toward higher and better uses for the neighborhood.”
Thanks to Brennan’s pro bono work, the San Diego LGBT community now has a permanent public place to assemble, protest, mourn and celebrate with their community.
Since installation, the Pride Flag and Monument have become a regional landmark and gathering point for LGBT celebrations, protests and memorials. These include impromptu celebrations after the Supreme Court’s marriage decision in 2013, vigils and mourning after the incredible loss of life in the Pulse Nightclub massacre, and recently as a rallying point for the Black Lives Matter protest.
It has also spurred organized community events to gather there including the Pride of Hillcrest Stonewall Rally, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Pride Block Party, and is home to the longstanding weekly farmers market.
The existence of the Pride Flag and Monument inspired the community-driven process to design and fully fund the Normal Street Promenade by converting the western half of Normal Street to pedestrian and cycle use. Brennan was also involved in the early phases of this design.
Said Brett Allen, President of ASLA, “This landmark project correlates directly to one of ASLA’s top priorities of diversity and inclusiveness within our profession.”
Through Brennan’s high-profile involvement the community has seen the potential for landscape architects to imagine built environments reflective of the individuals and community they are in, said Allen.
Brennan’s landscape architecture firm is Carson Douglas with offices in San Diego and Maine. Visit their website cd-la.com.
— Delle Willett has been a marketing and public relations professional for over 30 years, with an emphasis on conservation of the environment. She can be reached at email@example.com.