Urban Greening Projects From Which We Can All Learn

The need to house growing city populations in ever more dense neighborhoods is making it increasingly difficult to plan for urban greening projects. Yet we must continue to try to incorporate greening in our cities. The stakes are too high to ignore the benefits of green space in urban areas, which include better physical and mental health, improving the local economy, and creating more sustainable cities.

Here are a few examples of urban green space projects that are revitalizing cities around the United States.

Atlanta BeltLine

The Atlanta BeltLine has gone from an idea to a major tourist attraction in just 17 years. Its winding tracks through a disused railroad corridor connect 45 neighborhoods and incorporate several parks. It includes an arboretum, street art, and murals, and is proving to be a project that enables many local parades, exercise classes, and more to take place.

And it’s not one of those greening projects that push house prices through the roof, either. Affordable housing has been included in the project, with an impressive 5,600 units either built or planned.

Millennium Park

Chicago’s Millennium Park may be most famous for ‘the bean’, a shining sculpture that is properly known as Cloud Gate, but it is hugely impressive for many other reasons. 

Developed on derelict industrial land, it includes a five-acre perennial garden, art galleries, the largest green roof in the world (a colossal 24.5 acres), and a modern concert venue.

Railroad Park, Birmingham

Railroad Park plays a significant role in Birmingham, Alabama’s vibrant downtown. Its 19 acres of green space feature an industrial history and sustainable design elements like a bio-filtration wetland area. Attracting people from across the city, it incorporates hundreds of trees, the Birmingham History Wall, and three skate bowls.

Klyde Warren Park, Dallas

If you want to see imagination at play in the planning of green space, then look no further than Klyde Warren Park. This is a five-acre deck over an eight-lane highway, connecting downtown Dallas to uptown Dallas with pedestrian and cycle paths.

It has also helped to transform the surrounding cityscape into a quieter, calmer, more inviting space.

New York’s High Line

Green space in New York? That would be Central Park, of course. But what about the High Line?

Developed on disused railroad tracks, this green space incorporates mostly natural, native, and low-maintenance plants. Acting as a green roof, absorbing water, and helping to protect the city from stormwater, the way this green pathway works helps the city’s goals of a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable future.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Occupying 85 acres on the waterfront, Brooklyn Bridge Park is impressive for all the right reasons. It’s a place where people visit to play sports, walk, cycle, or just relax. There are many free attractions open to the public, and it includes an environmental education center that impacts 10,000 children every year.

Green spaces in our cities? Every little bit helps

It is not only the big projects like these that make a difference to our cities. Around the United States, we can see the benefits of greening in many smaller projects.

Schools are being encouraged to follow the ideas of Akira Miyawaki and participate in projects to deliver ‘mini-forests’, helping to reduce pollution and noise, as well as encourage more birds and insects into our cities.

In South Central Los Angeles, Ron Finlay took it upon himself to cultivate small strips of land  ─ such as patches between the curb and sidewalk, to grow fruit and vegetables for residents. The city disapproved at first, but eventually backed down and changed the law to allow this form of urban gardening.

Or how about PARK(ing) Day? Founded in San Francisco, the third Friday in September is a day when car parking spots become pocket parks. Concrete becomes grass for a day, with a potted tree and a bench, playground equipment, and free exercise classes.

There are many ways in which we can develop urban green space projects across our cities. It isn’t simply about making our cities look good, either. It’s about delivering better life outcomes, a greater sense of community and belonging, and more sustainable urban living.

Shouldn’t we take note of successful projects big and small, and incorporate these ideas into our urban planning?

At ACB Consulting, we are committed to helping improve the communities in which we live, work, and play – including how they are conceived, designed, and created. To learn more, contact ACB Consulting.

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