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What exactly is a 21st-century park?

We like to say it\’s more than turf and trees, though plenty of those iconic elements are essential. Far less appealing, but no less critical, is careful foresight and planning.

One interesting example of design-meets-planning is  Olympic Park Legacy Company, which recently unveiled plans for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a post-games adaptation of the primary grounds of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games “that will become one of London\’s most celebrated places.”

Even as London has been developing the facilities and infrastructure necessary to host what is truly the world\’s largest multi-day event, designers and planners are considering what comes after:

[Queen Elizabeth Olympic] Park residents will enjoy strong physical, economic and social links with their long established neighbours in surrounding areas. Footpaths and cycleways, as well as waterways, bridges and roads; will criss-cross the Park, linking it to all its neighbouring communities. These vital local links will help stitch together previously disconnected and often isolated places.

The excellent transport connections will feed the local economy linking businesses and workers to new opportunities. These links will also open the Park to its cultural and social neighbours, offering new collaborations and shared opportunities for art, entertainment and events.

Minutes from Central London, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will form the southern portion of a 26-mile greenway, part of what\’s called the East London Green Grid, further relating the new park to the broader London landscape.

Here at MR|DC, we can\’t predict exactly what design will emerge in January 2011. We can say we share some of the key values expressed in the Olympic Park Legacy Company\’s vision: linking neighbors, making transportation connections, and creating opportunities to live, work, recreate, entertain and gather in a sustainable, integrated parks development. Our beautiful, iconic Minneapolis Riverfront, and the communities who cherish it, deserve no less.

Note: MR|DC co-sponsor, Minneapolis Parks Foundation, hosted a talk by Jamie Dean, Program Manager, of the Green Grid in May 2010, as the kick-off talk in their “Next Generation of Parks” Speaker Series; check out an except of Dean\’s presentation, here.

Posted in Global Parks Design.

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