Celebrating the Public Realm: Six Finalists Selected for the Urban Land Institute: ULI Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award

Parks in Boston, Detroit, Greenville, New York City, Seattle and Pittsburgh Make the Cut

For more information, contact Trisha Riggs 202/624-7086; email: priggs@uli.org

WASHINGTON (March 24, 2010) — Six finalists have been selected for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award, a new competition that recognizes an outstanding example of a public open space that has catalyzed the transformation of the surrounding communities.

The finalists are Bremen Street Park in Boston; Campus Martius Park in Detroit; Falls Park on the Reedy in Greenville, S.C.; Herald and Greeley Square Parks in New York City; Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle; and Schenley Plaza in Pittsburgh. The winner will be announced April 16, 2010 at ULI’s Real Estate Summit in Boston. 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 award was created through the generosity of Amanda M. Burden, chair of the New York City Planning Commission and director of the New York Department of City Planning, and 2009 laureate of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. “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, who is serving on the jury for the urban open space award. “Great public space is why you stay in the city.”

The six finalists, selected from 88 entries representing urban areas throughout the United States, have each made a significant contribution toward reviving or transforming their surrounding community by providing an inviting and intensively used public open space that serves as a public destination throughout the year, said Jury Chairman Marty Jones, president of Corcoran Jennison Companies in Boston. “In these finalists, we have truly outstanding examples of excellent planning, design and development of open space. They have made a positive difference in the quality of life in the communities, serving as a respite, a source of civic pride, and a draw for investment activity.”

The descriptions of the finalists, with the project’s “champion” in parentheses:

  • Bremen Street Park, Boston, Massachusetts (Brown, Richardson & Rowe, Inc./MassDOT): Bremen Street Park replaced a Park ‘n Fly lot, reuniting a neighborhood in East Boston that was formerly divided by an airport and highway. The 18.5-acre rectilinear park provides significant public space accessible to mass transit in a diverse, low-income neighborhood.
  • Campus Martius Park, Detroit, Michigan (Detroit 300 Conservancy): Known as “Detroit’s Official Gathering Place,” Campus Martius Park has become the heart of the city’s downtown redevelopment, transforming a desolate area into a vibrant central square. The space attracts more than 2 million visitors year-round and has catalyzed an estimated $700 million of adjacent development.
  • Falls Park on the Reedy, Greenville, South Carolina (City of Greenville): Reclaimed riverfront land once used by textile mills, Falls Park on the Reedy is a 26-acre park that straddles the Reedy River in downtown Greenville. The park—responsible for accelerating private development in the city’s historic West End—features a curving pedestrian suspension bridge that overlooks the natural falls.
  • Herald and Greeley Square Parks, New York, New York (34th Street Partnership): Once desolate and dangerous, Herald and Greeley Square Parks in New York City have been recently renovated, becoming a haven for the neighborhood’s residents, visitors, and workers. The well-shaded triangular pocket parks feature movable seating flanked by raised flower beds, creating protected public space in one of the busiest and most urbanized locales in the world.
  • Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, Washington (Seattle Art Museum): The nine-acre Olympic Sculpture Park has reclaimed Seattle’s waterfront for its residents, whose access had been restricted by rail lines and a highway. The z-shaped topography rises above the existing infrastructure, providing access to a restored beach designed for ecological education and serving as a home for the Seattle Art Museum’s sculpture collection. With more than 1.5 million visitors in three years, this green space has become a vibrant, year-round gathering place.
  • Schenley Plaza, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy): Schenley Plaza has transformed an overgrown parking lot into a five-acre green space in Pittsburgh’s Oakland Civic and Cultural District. The urban square—which features a large lawn, multiple gardens, and a carousel—is designed to erase divisions in the community and improve circulation among the nearby university campuses, offices, and residential neighborhoods.

The creation of the open space award immediately followed the announcement in October 2009 of Ms. Burden being selected as the winner of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize. The Nichols Prize, awarded annually by ULI, recognizes a person whose career demonstrates a commitment to the highest standards of responsible development. “It has been my life’s work to celebrate the essence of city life and to create great public open spaces,” said Ms. Burden.

In addition to Jury Chairman Jones and Ms. Burden, other competition jury members are: Michael S. Balaban, president of Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group, Eastern Region, Washington, D.C.; Thomas E. Cody, principal, ProjectPDX, Portland, Oregon; William A. Gilchrist, senior associate, AECOM, Atlanta; Gary A. Hack, professor of urban design, University of Pennsylvania School of Design, Philadelphia; Kenneth H. Hughes, president, Hughes Development, LP, Dallas; Christopher W. Kurz, president and chief executive officer, Linden Associates, Inc., Baltimore; David Malmuth, managing director, RCLCO, Los Angeles; Randall K. Rowe, chairman, Green Courte Partners, LLC, Lake Forest, IIlinois; John B. Slidell, executive vice president, The Bozzuto Group, Greenbelt, Maryland; and Rebecca R. Zimmermann, principal, Design Workshop, Inc., Denver.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (uli.org) is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 33,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.