Eight public spaces in the United States and Canada have been selected as finalists for the 2020 ULI Urban Open Space Award, a global competition that recognizes outstanding examples of vibrant public open spaces that have been instrumental in promoting healthy, sustainable, and equitable outcomes in communities.
This year’s finalists are Domino Park, Brooklyn, New York; Historic Fourth Ward Park—Phase I, Atlanta, Georgia; Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, Tampa, Florida; Salesforce Park, San Francisco, California; Trojan Park, Wellston, Missouri; Uptown Normal Redevelopment, Normal, Illinois; West Eau Claire Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; and Yanaguana Garden at Hemisfair, San Antonio, Texas. ULI will announce the winner(s) by October, and the jury will allocate a prize purse of $10,000 to one or more winning project teams.
Projects were eligible for the award if they were predominantly outdoors and had been open to the public for at least one year. The jury selected the finalists based on criteria ranging from accomplishment of the team’s vision and goals, to sustainability and resilience, to community engagement and economic impact, among others. “The jury was impressed with the breadth and quality of this year’s submissions,” said jury chairman and ULI Trustee Antonio Fiol-Silva, founding principal of SITIO architecture + urbanism in Philadelphia. “From the largest project to the smallest, each of the finalist entries are community-scaled projects that focus on connecting people while making the most of resources—an imperative given the current times. The jury valued the finalist projects for the cohesion they afford their communities and for being a catalyst for transformation.”
The eight finalists are as follows:
- Domino Park, Brooklyn, New York City (project owner: Two Trees Management; designer: James Corner Field Operations; size: five acres [2 ha]): Domino Park is part of the transformation of the former Domino Sugar Factory site into a mixed-use, vibrant space within an area that previously had one of the lowest ratios of open space to people in the city. Inspired by community input and the site’s rich history, the park reconnects the Williamsburg neighborhood to the East River for the first time in 160 years. With more than 2 million visitors since opening in June 2018, Domino Park offers a wide range of active and passive uses and has been embraced by the diverse community it serves.
- Historic Fourth Ward Park—Phase I, Atlanta, Georgia (project owners: Atlanta BeltLine, City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, and City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation; designer: HDR; size: five acres [2 ha]): The Historic Fourth Ward Park transformed a blighted industrial lowland into a sustainable green space surrounding a functional stormwater retention pond. The transformation grew from the need to address the combined sewer overflows within the Clear Creek watershed. Surrounding the pond are walking trails, urban plazas, native plants, and an amphitheater. The park has been the cornerstone for a sustainable, high-density, and high-quality urban transformation in the community.
- Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, Tampa, Florida (project owner: city of Tampa; designers: Civitas Inc. and W Architecture & Landscape Architecture LLC; size: 25 acres [10 ha]): Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park transformed an unsafe area in disrepair into a vibrant and sustainable public space that responds to community needs and plans to reorient the center of downtown Tampa around the Hillsborough River. Completed in 2018, the park has picnic shelters, playgrounds, active recreation facilities, and river access. The park design included moving the seawall back into the park to bring the river closer to the people, which also created a calm cove for kayak and paddle board renters.
- Salesforce Park, San Francisco, California (project owner: Transbay Joint Powers Authority; designers: Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Adamson Associates International Inc., PWP Landscape Architecture, WSP, and Thornton Tomasetti; size: 5.4 acres [2.2 ha]): Salesforce Park sits atop the 1.5 million-square-foot (139,000 sq m) Salesforce Transit Center, which runs along four blocks of downtown San Francisco south of the Financial District. The park is a public space that includes a 1,000-person amphitheater, a children’s playground, a public plaza, a restaurant, a half-mile (0.8 km) walking path, and 13 botanical gardens representing different Bay Area ecologies. Salesforce Park provides a rooftop oasis in the heart of a dense urban environment.
- Trojan Park, Wellston, Missouri (project owners: Great Rivers Greenway and the city of Wellston; designer: Lamar Johnson Collaborative [formerly Forum Studio]; size: 1 acre [0.4 ha]): Located in a suburb of St. Louis, Trojan Park is a key destination as part of the St. Vincent Greenway, creating a safe, accessible, and welcoming place for all generations in the surrounding community. The park, which receives an estimated 20,000 visitors per year, hosts amenities the community chose, including a splashpad, a full basketball court, ADA-accessible exercise equipment, musical instruments, and rain gardens with native plants.
- Uptown Normal Redevelopment, Normal, Illinois (project owner: town of Normal, Illinois; designer: Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects; size: 4.9 acres [2 ha]): The Uptown Normal Redevelopment leveraged transportation and stormwater infrastructure improvements in the historic downtown core to create new public space and revitalize the central business district. Its central feature is the Circle, a signature civic green space that works in tandem with a modular, suspended pavement system to mitigate 1.4 million gallons (5.3 million liters) of stormwater annually. The Circle hosts an event lawn that is used year-round for festivals, parades, and other community events.
- West Eau Claire Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada (project owner: city of Calgary; designer: O2 Planning + Design; size: 16 acres [6.5 ha]): West Eau Claire Park defines a new vision for a highly valued public space along the Bow River in Calgary. The park improves the public realm while implementing a critical component of the city’s flood resilience strategy through the construction of a flood barrier. With designated pedestrian and bicycle paths, the park is multimodal—part of a continuous, safe, and accessible waterfront that encourages active lifestyles year-round.
- Yanaguana Garden at Hemisfair, San Antonio, Texas (project owners: city of San Antonio and Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation; designer: MIG Inc.; size: 4.1 acres [1.7 ha]): Named for the river of “refreshing waters” along which the Payaya Tribe built its seasonal villages, Yanaguana Garden at Hemisfair is a community gathering place in the heart of downtown San Antonio. The garden incorporates and preserves several historic structures, homes, and 1968 World’s Fair venues as locations for restaurants, cafés, retail stores, and other park-activating amenities to attract and engage visitors.
The jury also determined that three projects merited recognition as special mentions, each of which have helped shape their communities:
- CicLAvia, Los Angeles, California (owner: CicLAvia; designer: CicLAvia), for its leadership in the open-streets movement and collaboration across jurisdictions;
- Punto Urban Art Museum(PUAM), Salem, Massachusetts (owner: North Shore Community Development Coalition; designers: North Shore Community Development Coalition and all contributing artists), for its use of creative placemaking in open space to strengthen a community; and
- Quartyard, San Diego, California (owners: Quartyard and the city of San Diego; designer: RAD LAB), for its execution of a strategy to activate and create a sense of place on vacant public land.
ULI’s Urban Open Space Awards Competition is a key element of 10 Minute Walk, a joint effort with The Trust for Public Land, and the National Recreation and Park Association, that is working to create a world in which, by 2050, all people live within a 10-minute walk of a park or green space, that is working to create a world in which, by 2050, all people live within a 10-minute walk of a park or green space. In keeping with the spirit of the campaign, the Urban Open Space Award recognizes open spaces—including parks, plazas, squares, parks, memorials, linear parks and trails, or other nontraditional park and open space formats—that have been instrumental in promoting healthy, sustainable, and equitable outcomes in communities.
In addition to Fiol-Silva, the jury chairman, other Urban Open Space Award jury members are as follows: Toni Alexander, president and creative director, InterCommunications Inc., Newport Beach, California; Darla Callaway, principal, Design Workshop, Aspen, Colorado; Mehul J. Patel, chief operating officer, Midtown Equities, New York City; former ULI chief executive officer Patrick Phillips, Washington, D.C.; Terry Rynard, director, Kansas City Parks and Recreation, Kansas City, Missouri; Dorine Holsey Streeter, executive vice president, real estate investment management, James Campbell Company LLC, San Francisco; and Rives Taylor, principal, codirector of design resilience, Gensler, Houston.