This summer, Urban Land is profiling online and in print each finalist for 2020’s ULI Urban Open Space Award. The winner(s) will be announced in the fall. Learn more about award-winning and innovative open-space projects as part of the 2020 ULI Virtual Fall Meeting.
Owners: Atlanta BeltLine, City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation
Size: 5 acres (2 ha)
Opened: June 2010
Total cost: $18 million (excluding land acquisition)
On a site described by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as “a barren expanse of cracked concrete, weeds, and towering trees surviving against a background of neglect,” this parcel in Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward has been dramatically transformed. A stunning new park grew from the need to address the unglamorous problem of combined sewer overflows in the Clear Creek watershed.
The idea was inspired by neighborhood residents. Rather than adding costly traditional sewer tunnels, the blighted industrial lowland was reimagined as a sustainable green space surrounding a functional stormwater retention pond. The pond is the centerpiece of the new park, which includes walking trails, urban plazas, native plants, and an amphitheater. Design details and sculptural elements disguise engineering solutions by “celebrating” water as it enters the site from each direction. Blending innovative engineering with beautiful and inviting landscape architecture in a public open space, this park is a stunning example of using ingenuity to resolve stormwater issues while enhancing community life.
Historic Fourth Ward Park has been a harbinger of development and revitalization, providing the cornerstone for a sustainable, high-density, and high-quality urban transformation, along with an outstanding design solution for a serious sewer overflow problem.