AUA Acopian Center Engages Stakeholders in Implementation of Triangle Park Project
YEREVAN, Armenia – November 2019 to April 2020, the American University of Armenia (AUA) Acopian Center for the Environment, in cooperation with the Triangle Park project management team, completed the first phase of a wide-reaching stakeholder engagement to inform the design of the Triangle Park adjacent to AUA’s Paramaz Avedisian Building (PAB). As announced in September 2019, the park reconstruction was awarded a grant by American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Through stakeholder engagement, supported in part by grant from the Swedish Government, the team aimed to develop a greater understanding of community needs and concerns, as well as generate new ideas for improving the park.
The first phase consisted of a stakeholder survey conducted online, face-to-face, and by phone. In addition, some of the students registered in the AUA undergraduate course “Sustainable Cities” engaged the park users in a participatory planning process as part of the course (October–December 2019).
A total of 452 people participated in the survey. Half of the respondents were from the AUA community (faculty, staff, students, and alumni) and 37% were residents living near the park. The remaining 12% of respondents comprised commuters passing through the park and local businesses.
“The focus of the study was not on having a representative sample of the population but on ensuring that key stakeholders were adequately informed and given the chance to participate,” explained Siranush Harutyunyan, Grants and Project Manager at the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment. In addition to understanding user preferences, the survey measured the level of satisfaction with the current state of the park, including its security, usability, and appearance.
The survey results will be utilized to formulate the strategic recommendations for designing the Triangle Park’s layout plan and reconstruction. Understanding the reasons and frequency of use will help draw an architectural design that will ensure diversification of the park’s viability for recreational and educational purposes. Data on user preferences for potential features – increased tree-shaded areas and green space, improved irrigation, disability access, community activity area, smart energy and water solutions, increased biodiversity, a dedicated pet zone, and more – have been considered in the preliminary conceptual design of the Triangle Park, which will be further reviewed and incorporated into the final plan by the architectural design firm.
“We were happy that the survey participants were interested in providing their input into the design of the future Park,” remarked Anahit Ordyan, AUA Assistant Vice President. “This initiative reaffirms AUA’s commitment to ensure a participatory planning process for the Park’s reconstruction, which takes into account the needs and expectations of the larger community, including residents living nearby, AUA students, faculty and staff, parents who come to the Park with kids, commuters, etc. One of the notable findings of the survey was that people want to see the Park not only as a recreational place, but also as a place that would serve educational and community engagement purposes,” she noted.
“A key aspect of this stakeholder process we had carried out is that AUA students –13 of them – were involved in conducting surveys, organizing public participation, and analyzing the data,” stated Harutyunyan. “This is a critical step in creating a culture as well as in developing the skills needed for participatory planning, something that is quite new in Armenia,” she added.
The second phase of the stakeholder engagement will include soliciting additional input from stakeholders after the Triangle Park’s architectural drawing and landscape design is developed by the architectural design firm in the fall.
The complete survey results can be found on the Triangle Park project website.
The AUA Acopian Center for the Environment, a research center of the American University of Armenia, promotes the protection and restoration of the natural environment through research, education, and community outreach. The AUA Acopian Center’s focus areas include sustainable natural resource management, biodiversity and conservation, greening the built environment, clean energy, and energy efficiency, as well as information technology and the environment.