Urban living isn’t just about impressive high-rise towers with fabulous amenities. Today’s city-dwellers want their living quarters to extend far outside their doors and urban designers are answering the call with innovative and multi-functional public spaces. It’s up to the designers and developers to help residents live balanced lives filled with plenty of opportunities for interaction with the city, nature and others.
Hudson Yards Public Square and Gardens, New York City
The latest achievement in landscape architecture? A floating park. To be completed in 2018, this elevated public park is being constructed on a floating platform that uses jet engines for ventilation. The park’s design also features a 60,000 gallon irrigation system and trees growing in just four feet of “smart” soil.
Millennium Park, Chicago
Nearly a dozen architectural firms and artists contributed to Chicago’s Millennium Park to transform a former rail line and parking lot into a gorgeous multi-functional public space design. Hosting around 80 concerts a year, the park is home to one of the city’s sculptural icons: Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate.
North Saskatchewan River Valley Parks System, Edmonton
Comprised of over 20 parks and attractions, the Edmonton river valley forms the largest expanse of urban parkland in Canada. Multi-use trails run throughout the parks, connecting to other trails throughout the city. The public river valley offers a mixture of open space and nature, with fully serviced urban parks and campsite facilities.
Saint-Louis Square, Montreal
Referred to by Project for Public Spaces as “the closest thing to a European neighbourhood square this side of the Atlantic,” Saint-Louis Square features a Victorian fountain as its centrepiece. Enjoyed for its location, its romantic ambience and the surrounding historic Victorian row houses, this urban public space is a favourite of locals and tourists alike.
Stanley Park, Vancouver
Almost entirely surrounded by the waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay, this 1,001 acre public park features forest trails, beaches, play areas and an expansive amount of green space. The park’s greatest attraction is the near-century old seawall, which draws thousands of visitors on a daily basis and is primarily used as a walking, bicycling or rollerblading path.
The Streets, New Orleans
Seldom noticed, yet integral to a successful urban design, factors like street width, block length, sidewalk conditions and relationship of buildings make the streets of New Orleans an extremely walkable and accessible public space. Add to that a rich history and sumptuous architecture - this city truly is a feast for the senses.
Thousand Lantern Lake Park System, China
Situated on reclaimed industrial parks, the Thousand Lantern Lake parks represent urban planning at its finest. The park may be located in a financial district, but planners were dedicated to achieving a balance of live, work and play within the 286 acre system, which connects all new city blocks with canals, lakes and water alleyways.