Mitchell Park, one of SHoP’s earliest projects, is where we first learned the powerful effects good design can have on public life.

Even as our studio has grown, the work SHoP did to assist in the cultural, civic, and economic transformation of Greenport, New York—a historic seaport town on the North Fork of Long Island—stands as a model of our commitment to the creative use of design in the service of building communities. It also represents an important step in our ongoing work to revolutionize the delivery of great architecture through process innovation that embraces and leverages new technologies. SHoP won the project via open competition in 1996, and carried it through to completion over the following nine years.

After losing its traditional maritime industries, Greenport was overlooked as a tourist destination and struggled to rebuild its economy. The village’s nearly decade-long campaign of revitalization, completed in 2005, has transformed it into a proud and resilient city. The design of Mitchell Park was the nucleus of that change.

The project built upon existing transportation and commercial infrastructure to create a varied landscape of recreational pavilions and utilitarian amenities, linking Main Street to nearby rail and ferry terminals via a reactivated working waterfront.

SHoP worked to develop a program of active uses for Mitchell Park, with skating in the winter, concerts in the summer, and a showcase vintage carousel year-round.
The Camera Obscura at Mitchell Park was the first structure ever built through an all-digital approach that is now becoming common around the world. The structure to house the camera—which delivers a stunning image of the waterfront via traditional analog means to an intimate viewing space within—was created as a custom kit of parts, fabricated in controlled factory settings and delivered without traditional “blueprint” plans. Instead, builders were given a set of visual assembly instructions, like those used to put together Lego bricks or a model airplane. The strategy made possible the rapid, exact, and affordable construction of an irregular geometry comprising 1,487 unique pieces.