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RiverWalk is in illustrious company with the four other finalists for the coveted Urban Open Space award: the famous High Line in New York; Pier 25 at Tribeca in Hudson River Park, also in NYC; Railroad Park in Birmingham Alabama; and Tanner Springs Park in Portland, Oregon.
The award is given for public spaces that make a difference in the life of the surrounding community, spurring regeneration and transformation – which is precisely the role that RiverWalk is filling in East Village. RiverWalk has reconnected Calgarians of all kinds – cyclists, joggers, bladers and promenaders of all sorts – back to one of North America’s most beautiful riverfronts. RiverWalk is already giving Calgarians and visitors a waterfront destination; when the 4 km. of RiverWalk are complete – a span from Centre Street Bridge, through East Village, and down the Elbow to Lindsay Park – the riverfront will be a defining characteristic of the city.
Everyone at CMLC, including President Michael Brown, is, needless to say, delighted. “We are proud to be in the company of these outstanding examples of public open space development from across North America,” Brown says. “RiverWalk was designed as a journey and a destination creating a gathering place for Calgarians unlike anywhere else in Calgary.”
It takes many hands to make a RiverWalk: Stantec Consulting Ltd. did its Master Plan in 2008 along with detailed design work for Phase 1 and several others worked to bring it to life over the past 4 years.
That the award exists at all is thanks to funding by Amanda Burden, a former New York City planning commissioner. “All great planning comes down to the granular approach of how a building meets the street, how a street feels, how you feel walking in the city, and how it feels to be in public spaces and use public spaces that are inviting,” says Ms. Burden. “Great public space is why you stay in the city.”
While the competition for the award is fierce – the High Line is probably the best-known piece of public infrastructure of our generation – CMLC will learn who rules the public space roost in October. In the meantime, ponder this from jury chairman Randall K. Rowe: “These finalists are powerful examples of the importance of creating great public urban space to augment the quality of life of a community’s residents,” he says. “They also highlight, from a purely economic perspective, how investments in well conceptualized and executed public space can create a multiplier effect for the value of surrounding private property.”