Copyright Overland Partners Architects
Binational Park Aims to Restore and Revitalize the River Ecosystem, Attract Tourism and Celebrate Unique Relationship of Two Cities
In strategic meetings during late 2021 with United States Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar, U.S. Consul General for Nuevo Laredo Deanna Kim, and Mexico Ambassador Esteban Moctezuma, and political and business leaders from the South Texas region and Mexican state of Tamaulipas, members sought ideas that would positively impact local economies, stimulate trade, and enhance tourism, while also celebrating the symbiotic relationship between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo and the river they share. Together, they developed the idea of a binational border park along the banks of the United States’ side of the Rio Grande River, and the Mexican side of the Rio Bravo.
Overland Partners with local associate Able City, were unanimously chosen by Laredo City Council and members of the Binational Working Group, a public-private consortium, to conceptualize this binational river park project. On February 18, a site plan for the 6.3-mile tract, aerial renderings, and eye level perspectives for a one-mile developed stretch was presented to the Mayors and city leadership of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, the Governor of Tamaulipas, United States Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar, U.S. Consul General for Nuevo Laredo Deanna Kim, along with the Binational Working Group and community and business leaders.
“We are inspired by the Binational River Park and excited by the unique challenges an aspirational project of this magnitude presents – environmentally, socially, and culturally,” said Rick Archer, Overland Senior Principal and CEO.
The 6.3 river mile park has been identified as an ecological restoration project, one that will reestablish the river’s ecosystem, revitalize the economy, add cultural assets, such as public art, and attract tourism on both sides of the river, transforming the space into a distinctive international landmark that joins two communities and nations into one.
With international experts from OLIN Studios and ARUP, and regional engineering firms Crane Engineering and LAN Hydrology, Overland with Able City led a workshop February 7 – 9 with members of the Binational Work Group and key stakeholders to understand project needs and study the surrounding physical context. Nearly 35 people participated in a series of visioning exercises and site visits that resulted in a unified concept of the Binational River Park.
This workshop led to a mission statement to guide the project:
The Binational River Park at the Rio Grande-Rio Bravo in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo connects and celebrates our common culture on the United States and Mexico border. It reclaims our shared history, spurs the economy, promotes security on both sides of the river, and restores the ecological treasure we call home. The first of its kind, this international conservation project enhances our quality of life and serves as a prototype for border cities around the world to follow. Two nations, one community. One river. One park.
“Together with our partners and stakeholders, we want to create an international cultural destination and model for cooperation, conservation and community,” Archer said.