From parking lot to park: 5 inspiring urban 'open spaces'

Great open spaces can transform a urban area for the better. See five examples of cities that are getting it right.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

Revitalizing an urban area can be as straightforward as transforming a neglected area into a beautiful open space.

That's what five cities have done and the results are downright inspiring.

The Urban Land Institute recognized five urban open spaces -- for their 2011 Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award -- as models of how turning unassuming places, like rundown parking lots, into public gathering spaces can revive an urban area.

The award winner, St. Louis' Citygarden, is a 2.9 acre sculpture garden and park located in downtown St. Louis. According to Urban Land Institute the park has "altered the perception of the city’s downtown and catalyzed nearby development."

The other finalists:

Director Park, Portland, Ore.: This space was originally proposed as an eight-story parking garage. Instead this half-acre minimalist open space has become "an outdoor room for Portland’s citizenry."

Discovery Green, Houston, Texas: What used to be a contaminated, underused piece of land on the edge of downtown Houston is now a busy 12 acre open space. It has attracted an estimated 3 million visitors since its opening, along with reinvestment in east downtown.

Jamison Square, Portland, Ore.: This is the first in a series of pocket parks planned in Portland. The park's interactive fountains have been a major attraction to children and neighborhood families.

Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion, Houston, Texas: Formerly this was an underused quad on the Rice University campus. But now with a new student center and pavilion, it's a social hub on campus.

Words don't do these open spaces justice. Check out the video below and be inspired.

Photo: clio1789/Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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