Six International Parks Selected As Finalists In 2015 Urban Land Institute Urban Open Space Award Competition

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Projects in China, Singapore, and USA Celebrated for Providing Healthy, Vibrant Public Destinations

Aerial View of 2015 Urban Open Space Award finalist, Marina Bay. Photo courtesy of URA.

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has announced six finalist projects in its global Urban Open Space Award competition, an annual competition that recognizes outstanding examples of successful large- and small-scale public spaces that have socially enriched and revitalized the economy of their surrounding communities.

This year’s finalists are the Marina Bay in Singapore; Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois; Myriad Gardens in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Thousand Lantern Lake Park System in Foshan, GuangDong, China; Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square in Santa Monica, California; and Washington Canal Park in Washington, DC. An international jury - representing several facets of development expertise including finance, architecture, land planning and development, public affairs, design, and professional services – will select one winner later in the year.

“The submissions from this year are representative of how quality urban open space has become more than just an amenity for cities,” said jury chair Michael Covarrubias, chairman and chief executive officer of TMG Partners in San Francisco, California. “The international diversity of the projects is reflective of how developers continually work to meet global demand by the public for the inclusion of healthy places in cities.”

The descriptions of the finalists, with the project’s owner and designer in parentheses:

  • Marina Bay, Singapore (Owner/Designer: Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority): The 3.5km long waterfront promenade features two pedestrian bridges that encircles a 48ha waterbody. It generates a ‘water piazza’, that becomes a meeting place and ffocal point for celebrations and activities.
  • Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA (Owner: City of Chicago, Designer: Edward Uhlir, FAIA, et al): The park represents a model for successful regeneration right at the urban core providing a place for Chicagoans and tourists to enjoy a broad variety of free public events through an engaging community experience.
  • Myriad Gardens, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA (Owner: Myriad Gardens Foundation, Designer: Office of James Burnett): A joint investment effort takes a highly-underused yet prime 15-acre urban downtown garden and park site that had fallen into disrepair, and turns it into a state-of-the-art, highly active destination to improve the quality of life in Oklahoma City and continue the renaissance of the entire downtown.
  • Thousand Lantern Lake Park System, Foshan, GuangDong, China (Owner: Nanhai District Government; Designer: SWA Group et al): The park system represents a defining infrastructural effort that is integral to Nanhai’s strategic approach of urban transformation with a successful, people-oriented urban development that provides creative solutions for attracting people to its newly constructed Guangdong Financial High-tech Industrial Zone.
  • Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square, Santa Monica, California, USA (Owner: City of Santa Monica, Designer: James Corner Field Operations): The project embodies a new type of urban landscape that is active, innovative, resource-conscious, and natural. Shaped by extensive public participation, the design creates a contemporary and transformative series of gardens and active spaces that symbolically redefine and interconnect the center of Santa Monica.
  • Washington Canal Park, Washington DC, USA (Owner: Canal Park Development Association, Inc, Designers: OLIN and STUDIOS Architecture, dcpc): One of the first parks built as part of the District's Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, the park is located on 3 acres of a former parking lot for district school buses, and has been transformed into a model of sustainability, a social gathering place, and an economic trigger for the surrounding neighborhood.

The winning project is scheduled to be announced at the ULI Fall Meeting, set for October 5-8, 2015 in San Francisco, California. 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 six finalists were selected from an impressive collection of entries, representing urban areas from across the globe. While landscape architecture and urban design were factors in the judging, the jury selected finalists based on a broader set of criteria, including overall project design and how each impacted or revived their surrounding areas.

The award was created through the generosity of Amanda M. Burden, former New York City Planning Commissioner and 2009 laureate of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. In 2011, the Kresge Foundation, MetLife Foundation, and the ULI Foundation joined forces to continue the Urban Open Space Award through 2015. For 2015, ULI reaffirmed its commitment to the award and announced it would expand the program to global submissions.

To be eligible for the competition, an open space project must have been opened to the public for at least one year and no more than 15 years; be predominantly outdoors and inviting to the public; provide abundant and varied seating, sun and shade, trees and plantings with attractions; be used intensively on a daily basis by a broad spectrum of users throughout the year; have a positive economic impact on its surroundings; promote physical, social, and economic health of the larger community; and provide lessons, strategies, and techniques that can be used or adapted in other communities.

In addition to jury chairman Covarrubias, other 2015 awards jury members include: jury vice chair M. Leanne Lachman, president, Lachman Associates, New York, New York; Terrall Vern Budge, principal, Loci, Salt Lake City, Utah; Dr. Sujata S. Govada, managing director, UDP International, Wan Chai, Hong Kong; Jason Hellendrung, principal, Sasaki Associates, Watertown, Massachussets; Sophie Henley-Price, managing director, STUDIOS, Paris, France; Lance K. Josal, chief executive officer, Callison RTKL; Dallas, Texas; Jeff Kingsbury, managing principal, Greenstreet Ltd., Indianapolis, Indiana; Jacinta McCann, executive vice president, AECOM, San Francisco, California; Steve Navarro, executive vice president, CBRE; Greenville, South Carolina; and Trini M. Rodriguez, principal, ParkerRodriguez, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia.                                                            

NOTE TO REPORTERS AND EDITORS: High resolution photos of the 2015 Urban Open Space Award finalists will be made available to credentialed members of the press upon request. For more details on the award and previous winners, visit the Urban Open Space Award competition page.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute ( 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 over 34,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

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Urban Land Institute
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