If you still haven't voted, head on over to IdeaScale and give us your suggestions. Voting is getting competitive, with Seattle's Cal Anderson Park currently topping the list.
It has been a fascinating experiment so far, attracting some of the expected responses (The High Line, Millennium Park, Bryant Park) and some less so (The Circle in Normal, Illinois). For me, it's been a revelation to read about the many beloved plazas and parks I've yet to visit.
While crowdsourcing has its benefits, it is also useful to talk to people who's business is to think about cities and architecture. I asked a handful of architecture critics, urban designers and architects to give us their bests.
James S. Russell, architecture critic for Bloomberg News and recently the author of The Agile City: Building Well-being and Wealth in an Era of Climate Change, was kind enough to send us his Top 10:
James S. Russell's Top 10
John King is urban design critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, and he also has a new book out, Cityscapes: San Francisco and its Buildings. Rather than a top 10 list, John sent us this reflection on his favorite places:
In Boston, where I lived seven years, what comes to mind is Boston Public Garden. You enter and you have stepped out of time, a sensation felt often in The Hub. And yet it's centrally located, very much part of the daily ebb and flow, timeless yet integral to the city of today.
New York? What else but the High Line. Deride it as monied or mannered or a developers' boon in hip veneer, it is mesmerizing and exhilarating at once -- a reminder that the principles of urban design should never be considered set. Because new layers and the unexpected are part of the change that cities are all about.
Finally, in Portland, Tanner Springs Park. Again, people I respect consider the Atelier Dreiseitl design to be mannered. I love how it embodies the uniquely sustainable ethos that shapes this Northwest city more and more, year after after year.
Inga Saffron is the Philadelphia Inquirer's architecture critic, and currently a Loeb Fellow at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, provided us with this list of her picks:
Inga Saffron's Top 10
Anthony Flint, a fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, a contributor to The Boston Globe and author of Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City
Anthony Flint's Top 10
Flint explains his choices:
Considering all the challenges, though, the Greenway is doing OK. On a sunny day in downtown Boston it's a fine place to be, whether at the intersection with Hanover Street and the North End Parks (Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd ), the carousel, or by the fountain in the Wharf District (EDAW). A terrific recent addition is the Boston Harbor Islands Pavillion by Utile (http://www.utiledesign.com/projects/harbor-park-pavilion/), which both celebrates the space near Christopher Columbus Park and leverages and redirects visitors to consider the incredible resource that awaits by boarding a boat a few steps away.
The public buildings that were supposed to divide up and frame the Greenway space aren't there. Moshe Safdie's museum, a City of Boston museum, a YMCA, the botanical gardens and winter garden envisioned down by Dewey Square and South Station – all remain pretty pictures on a drafting table. There is no suitable crossroads at the Old Northern Avenue Bridge over to the Seaport district across Fort Point Channel. The Chinatown park is pleasant enough, though a bit hard to find.
These circumstances have forced the public space to evolve and reach out in other ways – with food trucks and public art installations, and programming that comes and goes without a whole lot of stress and strain. If there were more people living downtown, the Greenway would be a smash hit just with some Tuilleries-style crushed stone and Bryant Park-style movable chairs.
But then one must stop and think and marvel at what was here, what was erased from the landscape to create this space: the hulking elevated highway the Central Artery, rattling with thousands of cars overhead, cutting the city in two, looming over dreary parking areas in darkness and shadow. Some young people around here may not even remember this Robert Moses-era highway was ever there – like how some fans don't think much about those years the Red Sox went without a championship.
So the Greenway gets my vote as the public space created by a hugely expensive public works project correcting a 1950s mistake of the type Jane Jacobs fought against, that doesn't have much proper support but is finding its way and trying hard, in a way most Bostonians would want it to succeed.
To get a different perspective, we spoke with some people who are on the design side, like David R. Gal, a landscape architect for SWA Group and the primary on-site landscape architect for Burj Khalifa Tower Park in Dubai:
Nicole Horn is also a Landscape Architect with SWA Group, and also has a California pick:
And to close, here's a completely different sort of public space, a favorite of Sam Zimbabwe, Director of the Center for Transit-Oriented Development:
One of my favorite public spaces in the United States is not the most beautiful place in the world. And it's not a place that I would choose to sit and sip a cup of coffee, but it is a place that works despite its disfunctions.
Thanks to all our contributors, and let us know what your favorite public spaces are!