Five projects have been selected as finalists for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Urban Open Space Award, a competition that recognizes outstanding examples of transformative and vibrant public open space large and small  that have spurred economic and social regeneration of their adjacent communities. 

The Yards Park in Washington, D.C.
The Wilmington Waterfront Park in Wilmington, Calif.
Cumberland Park in Nashville, Tenn.
Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, N.Y.
The Parks and Waterfront at Southeast False Creek
in Vancouver, British Columbia
This year’s finalists are the Yards Park in Washington, D.C.; Wilmington Waterfront Park in Wilmington, California; Cumberland Park in Nashville, Tennessee; Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, New York; and the the Parks and Waterfront at Southeast False Creek in Vancouver, British Columbia. The winning project will be announced at the ULI Fall Meeting, set for November 58, 2013, in Chicago. 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. Since the program is not meant to be a landscape architecture or urban design competition, the jury selected finalists based on overall project design and how each affected or revived their surrounding areas.   

“Submissions for the 2013 ULI Open Space Award reflected the impressive creativity that is blossoming across North America as cities provide outdoor opportunities for relaxation, an amazingly broad range of physical activities, and a sense of community for citizens and visitors of all ages,” said jury chairman M. Leanne Lachman, president of real estate consulting firm Lachman Associates LLC in New York, New York.  “Each finalist park draws folks in and encourages them to stay and actively participate, enlivening their neighborhoods and tightening the fabric of their cities.  Passive and active recreation is delightfully alive and well in our urban areas, as evidenced by ULI’s five award finalists.” 

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

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, New York (Project Owner: Brooklyn Bridge Park; Designer: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.)

    1.3 miles (2.1 km) of Brooklyn’s waterfront are being revitalized with an array of open spaces that return the area to public use, reconnect with adjacent neighborhoods, and generate a sustainable and self-financed multiuse civic space.  More on Brooklyn Bridge Park.
  • Cumberland Park, Nashville, Tennessee (Project Owner: Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation Department; Lead Design Consultant: Hargreaves Associates)

    Part of a phased master plan to draw residents and visitors back to the river and downtown, the space is committed to both new generations and to sustainability through brownfield remediation, floodplain preservation, and interpretation of cultural and natural resources. More on Cumberland Park.
  • The Parks and Waterfront at Southeast False Creek, Vancouver, British Columbia (Project Owner: City of Vancouver Designer: PWL Partnership Landscape Architects Inc.)
    Located on a previously industrialized waterfront area the project exemplifies a new green infrastructure based approach to the public realm through the introduction of restored natural environments into a highly urban community.  More on the Village on False Creek.
  • The Yards Park, Washington, D.C. (Project Owner: District of Columbia; Designer: M. Paul Friedberg & Partners; Developer: Forest City) A regeneration that brings local communities and visitors to the Anacostia River, the Yards Park providing a transformative and vibrant public space that aims to generate social, economic, and ecological value under an innovative public-private funding model.  More on the Yards Park.
  • Wilmington Waterfront Park, Wilmington, California(Project Owner: Port of Los Angeles; Designer: Sasaki Associates, Inc.)

    The space creates a new public realm that mediates the relationship between the residential neighborhood of Wilmington and the intensely active Port of Los Angeles. Mitigating the industrial impact of the port, it provides a safe and accessible space that celebrates the vibrant community culture within a previously underserved neighborhood of Los Angeles. More on Wilmington Waterfront Park.

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.

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 15 years; be predominantly 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; promote the physical, social, and economic health of the larger community; and provide lessons, strategies, and techniques that can be used or adapted in other communities.