The New Public Spaces And Why They Are Important

<p>Parks are no just about connecting with nature. The evolving public spaces of today revitalize abandoned industrial land and engage citizens.</p>
August 1, 2007, 2pm PDT | Abhijeet Chavan
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"If the 20th century was dedicated to buildings, the 21st will be about the spaces between them...first time in history, more than half the planet's population lives in cities...as developed cities move from an industrial to a knowledge-based economy, vast swaths of land have been abandoned and are ripe for revitalization. Examples abound: everything from Chicago's Millennium Park (an old train yard) and the Olympic Sculpture Garden in Seattle (formerly an oil tank storage depot) to Parc Citröen in Paris (a disused car factory)."

"he park has become less a place of trees and flowers than a space of engagement. Compare, say, Riverdale Park with Yorkville Park. The two are wildly different in size, but other than that, they illustrate the evolving philosophies of public space.

The former, a huge green desert, occupies what is basically leftover land not suitable for any other purpose. It offers the usual complement of wide-open spaces, sports fields, tennis courts and even a swimming pool...By contrast, tiny Yorkville Park addresses issues of local history, geography and the now disappeared ecosystem. Though it also provides an opportunity to sit, look and eat lunch, don't go expecting to play soccer or toss a Frisbee. It's not that kind of place."

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Published on Friday, July 13, 2007 in The Toronto Star
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