Built on the site previously occupied by the Rand Corporation’s headquarters and more recently a surface parking lot, Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square—once collectively known as the Civic Center Parks—encompass 7.4 acres (3 ha) in the heart of Santa Monica. The completion of these parks in 2014 represents the first step toward completing a plan for the 67-acre (27 ha) civic center area, which re-envisioned the area as a vibrant neighborhood with improved linkages to the Santa Monica Pier, Palisades Park, downtown Santa Monica, and Santa Monica State Beach.
The Sabine-to-Bagby Promenade, one of the largest investments in public parkland ever carried out by the city of Houston, has resurrected a neglected, trash-strewn section of the historic Buffalo Bayou waterfront as a signature gateway to downtown. The project, which created more than 3,000 linear feet (914 m) of parks along the waterway, adds 23 acres (9 ha) of parkland to downtown Houston. It is helping the city to at least begin to realize the civic and recreational potential of the bayou, the waterway that gave birth to Houston in 1836.
Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, the 76,000-square-foot (7,061-m2) Chaparral Water Treatment Facility was built to meet the current and future water demand of this desert city and Phoenix suburb. Through the use of cutting-edge technology, the facility fulfills its public mandate on a minimal footprint and lessens its impact on the neighboring community with art and sculpture that pay homage to desert life. Completed in June 2006, the result transforms a necessary community resource—typically relegated to industrial areas—into a backdrop for the bustling Chaparral Park.
Cabot Circus is a 150,000-square-meter (1.6 million-sq. ft.) new urban quarter developed by the Bristol Alliance, a partnership between two of the United Kingdom’s largest developers, Land Securities and Hammerson. The mixed-use development was built in collaboration with the Bristol City Council, which was eager to revive a major district of the United Kingdom’s eighth-largest city. Cabot Circus was conceived as a new urban heart to the city and designed to provide Bristol’s affluent demographic with high-quality shopping, leisure, and entertainment, in hopes of moving the city up to a top shopping destination.
One of the first parks built as part of the District of Columbia’s Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, Canal Park presents a model of sustainability, attaining both Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certifications. The public-private partnership that was established in order to design, fund, and develop the project allowed for neighborhood-scale impact. The park has quickly established itself as a social gathering place and an economic trigger for the surrounding neighborhood.
Buffalo Bayou Park is a 160-acre linear park stretching for 2.3 miles west of downtown Houston, along the region’s primary river. A $58 million capital campaign transformed the park from a neglected drainage ditch into a citywide showpiece. Its ten acres of trails wind past seven major public art installations, three gardens of native flora, and over four pedestrian bridges; two festival lawns, a dog park, a skate park, a nature play area, a restaurant, and an art exhibit hall draw visitors from afar. Structures were carefully sited above the path of potential floods, while park elements within the valley were designed and built to be submerged during future floods—requiring cleanup, rather than reconstruction, after the inevitable floods.
The nonprofit Buffalo Bayou Partnership orchestrated a joint effort between public sector partners and private donors: private donors funded the park, in tandem with public sector improvements to the river channel and adjacent streets, and with a plan for ongoing maintenance. The park’s completion was a milestone that launched a broader effort to reimagine the possibilities of streams across the region.
Allentown, Pennsylvania, went from a multimillion-dollar city budget deficit to a multimillion-dollar surplus. While other Pennsylvania cities were seeing real revitalization in recent decades, Allentown (the biggest city in the Lehigh Valley) saw lethargic economic growth after broad deindustrialization. The state designated a Neighborhood Improvement Plan in Allentown which, in conjunction with private developers, set forth a plan for economic vitality. It resulted in 4,000 new jobs in the urban core and a billion dollars of new development. Allentown is now the fastest-growing city in Pennsylvania with particularly promising job growth in its urban core.
Citygarden, which opened in July 2009 on two of the gateway mall’s key blocks, was aimed at creating an active and enticing space that would attract a diverse public, alter perceptions of downtown, and catalyze downtown development. The 2.9-acre (1.2-ha) rectilinear open space comprises a sculpture garden with interactive art, imaginative and whimsical water features, and dining and picnicking venues. The inviting park has spurred redesign of the Gateway Mall, elevated the status of public art in St. Louis, and has been a boon to local businesses.
Brays Crossing shatters the stereotype of low-income, single-room-occupancy (SRO) housing, proving that it can be both visually attractive and affordable and built debt-free and without government subsidy. Developed by New Hope Housing, a Houston-based nonprofit, the community features 149 SRO units along with community space and on-site social services, in seven brightly colored buildings that were formerly a dilapidated and blighted motel. The project is clad with a colorful steel mural that attenuates sound from the nearby highway, a functional solution that extends the rich mural tradition of Houston’s East End neighborhood.
Brays Crossing is the fifth project in Houston developed by New Hope Housing, an independent nonprofit founded in 1993 that is dedicated to providing stabilized housing for single adults living on limited incomes. New Hope Housing developed Houston’s first SRO, the Hamilton Street Residences, in 1995 and has provided more than 4,000 individuals — many of whom ultimately transition to traditional housing — with high-quality, supportive housing, helping alleviate homelessness in Houston.
Once a sleepy residential and industrial area in Shanghai, China, the Jinqiao precinct of the Pudong New District has gained new life through the development of the mixed-use Life Hub center. The new lifestyle center integrates culture and public art into its six hectares (14.8 acres) of land. The development centers around 98,000 square meters (1,054,863 sf) of retail space and includes 16,000 square meters (172,223 sf) of office space along with 34,515 square meters (371,516 sf) of open space. The open space largely serves as an exhibition area for public art produced by local artists who teamed with the developers to bring a strong sense of place to the Life Hub @ Jinqiao through art.