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ULI recently announced the finalists in its Urban Open Space Award competition and a local site is in the mix. I really love the Yards Park, for its re-use and upgrade of an abandoned resource–the Anancostia Rvierfront and for its design details.

Yards Park along the Anacostia River--from concept to detail--is an utrban park

Yards Park along the Anacostia River–from concept to detail–is an utrban park

You can read more of our observations and see pictures here, but these finalists all embody  features of good urban spaces. ULI is looking for spaces that “encouraged economic and social rejuvination in their neighborhoods” and these projects in Nashville, Vancouver, California, as well as DC incorporate urbansim into park design.

They are places to watch other people–strolling. splashing, or sitting. People in cities take their energy from other people–whether it’s on sidewalks or in parks.

These parks also mix environments–small and private spaces, spaces that are grand and public–just as a city ranges from bustling avenues to quiet side streets.

Another urban  feature are their references to the past. Many of these parks were former industrial sites reclaimed for mixed-uses. But incorporating that past into park design layers information, just as the faded painted wall sign or old firebox recalls a past city.

I’m sure there are many other particular urban features these parks share–from the smallest design elements to the largest concept. Take a look and see what strikes you.