Downtown Cary Park

  • Location
    Cary, North Carolina
  • Completion Date
  • Size
    7 acres
  • Team
    Architect: Machado Silvetti Architects
    Civil Engineer: Withers Ravenel Structural Engineer: SGH MEP Engineer: Cosentini Lighting Designer: LAM Partners Irrigation Designer: Irrigation Consulting, Inc. Water Feature Designer: Fluidity Design Consultants Signage + Wayfinding Designer: RSM Design
  • Awards
    • 2020: AN Best Of Design Awards, Honorable Mention
    • 2022: Downtown Cary Park wins NCASLA Award of Merit in the Analysis + Planning Category
Download PDF


Showcasing the extraordinary natural beauty native to North Carolina and the Piedmont, this downtown park balances active programming with a unique botanical experience. Shade gardens, perennial gardens, wetland and aquatic plantings, pollinator gardens, native meadows, and many more plant communities are on display throughout the seasons. A series of outdoor rooms are knit together by multi-dimensional vantage points, including elevated walkways, meandering paths and water features that take advantage of the change in grade across the site. The diverse programmed “rooms” were derived from an extensive community engagement planning process.

Key areas include a plaza that marries a pavilion with marketplace and restrooms with an interactive water feature; a children’s experiential and inclusive play environment that creates opportunities for non-prescriptive play; the great lawn, a flexible gathering place for large community events and concerts; and the gathering house and garden for both special events and quiet contemplation. Active and social recreation areas and courts are placed adjacent to the Bark Bar, a restaurant within the dog park.

The Academy Plaza Pavilion features comfort amenities and event space along with a unique market concept that provides park goers with access to snacks and sundries for their visit.

An extensive community engagement process with constituents of the Town of Cary informed the park design and process by identifying priorities and needs of future park goers.

The Bark Bar is on open air all season pavilion that offers libations in the park. It is adjacent to an off leash dog area with unique features like play mounds and water features. The Bark Bar’s undulating roof creates covered outdoor seating and provides restroom amenities for park patrons.

While active programming is a defining feature of the park, the design team planned for extensive passive landscape spaces where residents and visitors can be immersed in nature in the heart of the city.