“Great Parks We Can Learn From.”


In many ways, parks expansion has become a prime motif of the Gahan mayoral term to date. Now we have an independent city parks department, and have added Bicentennial Park (conceived during the Malysz administration). An aquatics center and athletics-oriented park have been bonded and will be constructed.

What can we learn from these three designs for new parks, and retrofits for existing parks, as (mostly) designed by the usual suspects, and as compared with the principles discussed below?

Great Parks We Can Learn From (Project for Public Spaces)

With the importance of parks growing in the public consciousness, now is the right time to revisit the question of what distinguishes great parks from all the rest. Of course, there’s no magic formula that yields a perfect park every time. But the true standouts, the parks that define the identities of their cities, tend to share certain elements that together explain a great deal of their success. The more great parks PPS observes, the more these elements leap out at us …

 … Through nearly 30 years of observation and analysis, PPS has identified nine strategies that help parks achieve their full potential as active public spaces that enhance neighborhoods and catalyze economic development. The parks profiled in this article provide excellent examples of these strategies in practice.

  • Use transit as a catalyst for attracting visitors
  • Make management of the park a central concern
  • Develop strategies to attract people during different seasons
  • Acquire diverse funding sources
  • Design the park layout for flexibility
  • Consider both the “inner park” and “outer park”
  • Provide amenities for the different groups of people using the park
  • Create attractions and destinations throughout the park
  • Create an identity and image for the park