National Award-winning Van Aken District Celebrates the Culture of Local!

National Award-winning Van Aken District Celebrates the Culture of Local!


Van Aken District was honored with the 2019 National Planning Achievement Award for Implementation—Gold.

MKSK would like to extend our congratulations to the City of Shaker Heights, project developer and owner R.M.S., Bialosky + Partners, and the entire project team of the Van Aken District for the 2019 National Planning Achievement Award for Implementation – Gold.  "The Van Aken District demonstrates the long-term view of planning,” Wendy Shabay, American Planning Association, 2019 Awards Jury Chair said. “A significant level of coordination and public engagement was necessary for the Van Aken District to become a reality.” MKSK is sincerely honored to collaborate with a great client and smart consultants by delivering our design services of the park plaza from concept to reality. 

Located in the heart of Shaker Heights, Ohio, this formerly underutilized strip center has now been envisioned as a vertically mixed-use, transit-oriented development. The Van Aken District now boasts an abundance of retail and office space, new multi-unit housing, centered around a new urban park for which the entire community will gather.  MKSK’s sensitive approach to the park design includes a paving pattern that echoes the rich Shaker heritage and craft of basket and textile weaving and is contextually sensitive to embrace both the past and the future of this established Garden City community.  “Within the ‘Living Room’ of the District, the park will help to activate adjacent uses and provides space for seasonal events and daily life,” says Jeffrey Pongonis, Principal at MKSK, “We’ve worked hard to curate materials, elements, and patterns in the landscape that will resonate with long-term residents of Shaker Heights and entice new residents and businesses to make the Van Aken District their new home.” 

MKSK embraces opportunities to work with communities and shape places that connect with the culture of local.  Here are some of our other projects that celebrate unique places: Long Street Bridge and Cultural Wall, Louisville Waterfront Park Phase IV, Indiana Statehouse Bicentennial Plaza, and Unity Park.