Most innovative public spaces: 6 standouts worth a look

Wed, 2015-07-15 06:00 -- SCC Staff

Washington Canal Park

Open space projects from around the globe competed in the Urban Land Institute's 2015 Urban Open Space Award program. Six finalists were recently announced, with a winner to be named in October at ULI's fall meeting.

The award, according to ULI, "celebrates and promotes vibrant, successful urban open spaces by annually recognizing and rewarding an outstanding example of a public destination that has enriched and revitalized its surrounding community."

This year's finalists as described by ULI are:

  • Washington Canal Park in Washington, D.C. -- Located on three acres of a former parking lot for school buses, Washington Canal Park is one of the first parks built as part of the District’s Anacostia Waterfront Initiative. Canal Park presents a model of sustainability, a social gathering place, and an economic trigger for the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Marina Bay in Singapore – Located in Singapore's city center, Marina Bay has been transformed into a vibrant precinct with a mix of commercial, residential, hotel and entertainment uses set amidst well-landscaped public spaces and parks that serve as green lungs, event venues and gathering spaces for those living and working there. It comprises a 3.5 km-long loop with a tiered waterfront promenade, two pedestrian bridges, event plaza and open spaces.
  • Millennium Park in Chicago  – This project transformed 16.5 acres of rail lines and a surface parking lot and another eight acres of shabby park land built on top of a deteriorated underground garage into a unique outdoor cultural venue. Today it is a place for Chicago residents and tourists to enjoy 80 annual outdoor major concerts, gardens, ice skating, restaurants, festivals, fairs, fountains, water features and interactive public art -- and it is all free.
  • Myriad Gardens in Oklahoma City -- Goals of this project were to take the highly underused yet prime 15-acre urban downtown garden and park site that had fallen into disrepair and completely redesign all outdoor areas into a state-of-the art, beautiful, green and highly active destination to improve the quality of life in Oklahoma City and continue the renaissance of the entire downtown.
  • Thousand Lantern Lake Park System in Foshan, GuangDong, China -- The development solves one of the greatest challenges similar third-tier Chinese cities face: how to retain a community’s vitality while the city upgrades its industrial structure to modern functionality, including a redefined spatial layout. Today Nanhai attracts investors, new residents and tourists for its celebrated Thousand Lantern Lake Park, now synonymous with the city’s identity.
  • Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square in Santa Monica, California – This project, says ULI, embodies a new type of urban landscape that is active, innovative, resource-conscious and natural. Shaped by extensive public participation, the design creates a contemporary and transformative series of gardens and active spaces that symbolically redefine and interconnect the center of Santa Monica.