Five finalists have been selected for the Urban Land Institute Urban Open Space Award, a competition that recognizes an outstanding example of a well-used public open space that has spurred regeneration and the transformation of its surrounding community.

Five finalists selected for Urban Open Space Award

Five finalists have been selected for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Urban Open Space Award, a competition that recognizes an outstanding example of a well-used public open space that has spurred regeneration and the transformation of its surrounding community.

The finalists are the High Line in New York, N.Y.; Pier 25 at Tribeca Section of Hudson River Park in New York, N.Y.; Railroad Park in Birmingham, Ala.; RiverWalk Urban Waterfront in Calgary, Alberta; and Tanner Springs Park in Portland, Oregon.  The winner will be announced at ULI’s Fall Meeting and Urban Land Expo, set for October 16 – 19, 2012 in Denver.  A $10,000 cash prize will be awarded to the individual or organization most responsible for the creation of the winning open space project.

The five finalists were selected from an impressive collection of entries, representing urban areas throughout North America.   Finalist selections were based on project design and how each transformed or revived their surrounding community. 

“These finalists are powerful examples of the importance of creating great public urban space to augment the quality of life of a community’s residents,” said jury chairman Randall K. Rowe, chairman of Green Courte Partners, LLC, Lake Forest, Illinois.  “They also highlight, from a purely economic perspective, how investments in well conceptualized and executed public space can create a multiplier effect for the value of surrounding private property.  As communities pursue the principles of smart growth, which will inherently lead to increased density, the importance of public urban spaces in support of community health and vitality will only increase.

The descriptions of the finalists, with the project’s owner and designer in parentheses:

The High Line, New York, N.Y. (Owned by: The City of New York and Friends of the High Line;
Designed by: James Corner Field Operations, with Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Piet Oudolf)
– The High Line reclaims an elevated railway structure as a new public space, which connects neighborhoods, and offers a new model for “greening “ the urban environment.  Designed as an integrated system, the High Line offers a varied city landscape with a new notion of the idea of promenading.
Pier 25 at Tribeca Section of Hudson River Park, New York, N.Y. (Owned by: Hudson River Park Trust;
Designed by: Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, P.C.)
– Pier 25, the longest active pier in New York City, regains the pier’s tradition of recreation providing a broad range of activities that encourages its use by the community at large. Part of Hudson River Park, Pier 25 has provided an iconic driver of urban growth since it turned into this vibrant neighborhood destination.
Railroad Park, Birmingham, Alabama (Owned by: City of Birmingham and the Railroad Park Foundation;
Designed by: Tom Leader Studio with Macknally Land Design, KVA, GA Architecture, HKW Associates, Khafra and Walter Schoel Engineering)
– Railroad Park occupies the historical seam created by a rail viaduct that bisects downtown.  The new topography integrates the train experience with a variety of new open space activities, which help organize and stimulate growth in the southern part of downtown, while promoting connections north of the railroad.                              
RiverWalk Urban Waterfront, Calgary, Alberta (Owned by: Calgary Municipal Corporation;
Designed by: Stantec Consulting Ltd.)
– RiverWalk Urban Waterfront comprises a 4-km river edge pathway system linking six unique urban precincts.  The park is a critical catalyst for the revitalization of Calgary’s East Village encouraging an interest in urban natural assets through an abundance of new pedestrian and cyclist experiences.
Tanner Springs Park, Portland, Oregon (Owned by: Portland Parks and Recreation; Designed by: Atelier Dreiseilt GmbH with GreenWorks PC) – Tanner Springs Park offers a unique, natural and contemplative oasis in the city.  It offers a model of sustainable urban design articulated through its water management systems and rich features.  Embraced by the community, the park offers an engaging respite embedded in the dynamic of a high density urban neighborhood.

The award was created through the generosity of Amanda M. Burden, New York City Planning Commissioner and 2009 laureate of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.   In 2011 the Kresge Foundation, MetLife Foundation, and the ULI Foundation joined forces to continue the Urban Open Space Award through 2014.

“All great planning comes down to the granular approach of how a building meets the street, how a street feels, how you feel walking in the city, and how it feels to be in public spaces and use public spaces that are inviting,” said Ms. Burden. “Great public space is why you stay in the city.”

The first ULI Urban Open Space Award was presented in 2010, with Detroit’s Campus Martius Park winning the inaugural honor.  Known as “Detroit’s Official Gathering Place,” the 2.5-acre green space was transformed from a desolate downtown parcel into a vibrant central square that is now the heart of the city’s downtown redevelopment initiative.   Last year, St. Louis’s Citygarden – a 2.9-acre richly landscaped sculpture garden and park that has drawn several hundred thousand visitors since it opened in 2009 – received the ULI honor.

To be eligible for the competition, an open space project must:  have been opened to the public for at least one year and no more than fifteen years; be predominately outdoors and inviting to the public; provide abundant and varied seating, sun and shade, trees and plantings with attractions; be used intensively on a daily basis by a broad spectrum of users throughout the year; have a positive economic impact on its surroundings; and promote physical, social, and economic health of the larger community.

In addition to jury chairman Rowe, other 2012 competition jury members are:   Glenn Aaronson, chief executive officer, Forum Turkey Fund, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Michael S. Balaban, president, Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group, Eastern Region, Washington, D.C.; William Bonstra, partner, Bonstra Haresign Architects, Washington, D.C.; David Dixon, principal, Goody Clancy, Boston, Mass.; Kenneth H. Hughes, president, Hughes Development, LP, Dallas, Texas; Mark Johnson, president, Civitas, Inc., Denver, Colo.; Christopher W. Kurz, president and chief executive officer, Linden Associates, Inc., Baltimore, Md.; David Malmuth, president, David Malmuth Development, San Diego, Calif.; Jeff Mayer, chief executive officer, Jeff Mayer + Partners, LLC, Irvine, Calif.; and John B. Slidell, executive vice president, The Bozzuto Group, Greenbelt, Md.

For more details on the award, click here.