Guthrie Green — 2014 Urban Open Space Finalist

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About Guthrie Green

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Owner: George Kaiser Family Foundation
Designer: SWA Group
Size: 2.6 acres

Guthrie Green transforms a 2.6-acre truck loading facility into a lively, highly programmed urban park offering an outdoor amphitheater, performance stage, interactive fountains, and an 11,000-square-foot café pavilion. Built and managed by the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF), the park has become the area’s leading destination since its 2012 opening, drawing 3,000 people every week to daily park activities and sparking $150 million investment in a variety of public, commercial, and residential projects within the emerging 19-block Brady Arts District of downtown Tulsa.

Year-round park features include “Food Truck Wednesdays” that regularly attract around 500 people, the all-season café pavilion, and special events to coincide with “First Friday Art Crawls,” when art and exhibit venues throughout the Brady Arts District are open to visitors. This winter also saw special café-sponsored “Snow Days” gatherings and “Picker’s Circles” where local musicians gathered to play on warm winter days. On a more informal basis, Guthrie Green is popular as a lunch place for downtown workers and as a play spot for newly arrived city-dwelling families.

Park activities rev up from Memorial Day through October with daily tai chi, yoga, and fitness classes offered through the Downtown Y; a produce and flea market on Sundays; a Thursday night movie series; and weekend musical concerts of all sorts. Regular art classes and exhibits round out the calendar year. This June the park also served as a major venue for Saint Francis Tulsa Tough, a premier three-day cycling festival that seeks to elevate the profile of Tulsa and promote active lifestyles.

Sustainable practices inform the park’s design and provide a new benchmark for energy innovations in the public realm. The project incorporates a ground-source heat pump system of 120 wells drilled to 500 feet, generating 600 tons (7.2 million BTU/hour) of heating/cooling for the Tulsa Paper Company, a nearby warehouse retrofitted concurrently with the park; the resulting energy savings helps to offset operating costs for the building’s nonprofit arts and cultural organization tenants. Photovoltaics on the park pavilion’s roof supply power for the pumps. A gridded pattern of gardens mirrors the geo-exchange well field operating invisibly below the landscape, while a series of black granite fountains express the jetting and misting characteristics of water.

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