10 Upcoming Urban Parks to Make Cities More Green

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Since studies show that outdoor spaces reduce stress and improve mental and physical health, more city planners are paying attention to the importance of urban greenspaces. Whether it increases walkability or improves air quality, these outdoor spaces are essential to keeping city residents happy and healthy. With current plans in the works, the following greenspaces are guaranteed to wow the world.

Southern Gateway Park (Dallas, Texas)

View of a walking path at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, similar to a new park opening up in 2024.
Credit: D Guest Smith/ Shutterstock

After the success of Klyde Warren Park, located over an eight-lane freeway in the Uptown neighborhood of Dallas, the city designed a similar greenspace to be built outside the downtown area. Slated to open in 2024, Southern Gateway Park will be built over I-35 East Highway in southern Dallas, between Ewing and Marsalis avenues, directly adjacent to the Dallas Zoo.

The massive project is being constructed in multiple phases, with the first phase including a children’s playground, a large lawn, a pavilion for outreach meetings, and space for food trucks. As a project of the Dallas Foundation, the park is meant to provide more outdoor space for Dallas residents while also bridging the city’s North-South divide, a division that was cemented by the construction of I-35 in the 1950s. A similar project in Oklahoma City, known as Scissortail Park and Skydance Bridge, was similarly successful in connecting city residents with an essential urban outdoor space.

Bosco Verticale (Toronto, Canada)

Vertical garden in Milan, similar to what is coming to Toronto.
Credit: View Pictures/ Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Architectural mastermind Stefano Boeri has had massive success in building vertical forests, or “bosco verticales,” around the world. The purpose of these unique gardens is to expand biodiversity and improve air quality in some of the world’s most populated cities. Pre-cultivated plants are incorporated into each high-rise’s design, with roughly two trees, eight shrubs, and 40 bushes for every human being.

Bosco verticales have been built around the world, including in recently finished buildings in Egypt and China. The next proposed bosco verticale is in Toronto, Canada, at 314 Davenport Road. Situated in the vibrant Annex neighborhood, near the University of Toronto’s St. George campus, the high-rise building will have 22 stories and 100 condos among the vegetation.

In addition to the building’s signature greenery, the vertical forest will also feature a rooftop terrace, dog run, and commercial space on the first floor. Plans for the building date back to 2013, but the building’s architect, Joab Igra, is still awaiting approval from the city council.

India Basin Waterfront Park (San Francisco, California)

Close up of a rope knotted to a steel cleat in a marina on a sunny day.
Credit: AlbertPego/ iStock

Plans have been in the works for India Basin Waterfront Park since its acquisition by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department in 2014. Located at 900 Innes Avenue, in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, the park will be the department's only waterfront property on San Francisco Bay. In a nod toward the city’s green reputation, the park will focus on habitat and wetland restoration, while also paying close attention to the challenges presented by rising sea levels.

At 10 acres in total, the park will feature 1.7 miles of shoreline along the water, with nearby family picnic areas. A floating dock and piers will give visitors access to fishing and kayaking, and concessions and programming buildings will be erected for public use. Trails will weave throughout the park's wetland habitat, and recreational facilities such as basketball courts, fitness stations, and a children’s area will be open to all.

Broad Marsh Shopping Mall (Nottingham, England)

Close-up of the old Broadmarsh Shopping Centre sign in Nottingham, England.
Credit: Electric Egg/ Alamy Stock Photo

In an attempt to revitalize a deserted shopping mall from the 1970s, the city of Nottingham has plans to completely renovate the unoccupied space. Shepherded by the Greater Broad Marsh Advisory Group and nicknamed the “Vision for the City Centre,” the redevelopment is expected to take 10 years to complete.

The Vision includes demolishing half of the shopping area and incorporating an eight-acre greenspace within the city center. This common space will feature plenty of flora and fauna, with similar wildlife elements incorporated throughout. The revitalized urban space will also provide an entrance to the network of Nottingham's caves, located beneath the city, and include the addition of residential homes not far from Nottingham Castle.

Great Park (Ontario, California)

Daytime view of Ontario, California and the clock tower.
Credit: Matt Gush/ Shutterstock 

The recently approved Great Park is expected to be a boon for the city of Ontario, California, and is being designed with the entire community in mind. Occupying the space between Haven and Campus avenues, Great Park will be more than three miles in length and encompass a total of 370 acres.

Once home to dairy farms, the renovated space will feature a network of trails, orchards, gardens, and discovery paths for citizens to explore. The central feature will be an arroyo that will store groundwater after storms. The park will also house open meadows for recreational activities and an amphitheater for community gatherings. Although the project is still in its beginning phases, planners hope it might also be the site of the city’s future farmer’s market, as well as a skate park.

Violet Crown Amphitheater (Austin, Texas)

View of the new Albany, Indiana amphitheater, similar to the upcoming Austin amphitheater.
Credit: Robin Gentry/ iStock

Although not yet approved, this large-scale amphitheater has been proposed in southwestern Austin with hopes for completion in 2023. With seating for over 20,000 people, the Violet Crown Amphitheater would become the largest music-specific venue in the area.

Violet Crown hopes to combine the beauty of the outdoors with the joy of music, by featuring pop, classical, and opera performers against sweeping views of the city skyline. With proposed zoning along Highway 71, the outdoor venue would allow convenient access from multiple highways, with the additional benefit of being 20 minutes from downtown Austin. Planned under the guidelines of Austin’s 2040 zero-waste initiative, the music venue will aim to minimize carbon emissions, water consumption, and single-use plastics.

Baltimore Greenway (Baltimore, Maryland)

Close-up of a wide paved bicycle path trail.
Credit: Anne Richard/ Shutterstock

The plan for this enterprise would link Baltimore’s many neighborhoods via a single citywide trail. Suggested as a total of 35 miles of connected urban pathways, the Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition would give citizens access to a network of recreational trails that could also be used for commuting purposes.

By connecting Baltimore’s pre-existing trails, the network’s footprint aims to make notable landmarks, such as John Hopkins University, Cyblurn Arboretum, Druid Hill Park, and Canton Waterfront Park, more accessible to the public. In 2015, the initiative was launched by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, with only 10 miles of new trails required to complete the coalition’s vision. The idea was sparked by the 1904 Olmsted Plan for Baltimore, which envisioned connecting the city’s many parks.

Southbank Skyscraper (Melbourne, Australia)

Victoria Melbourne Yarra River Southbank Promenade Footbridge with a view of the skyscrapers.
Credit: Jeff Greenberg/ Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Expected to be the world’s tallest “greenscaper,” the Southbank Skyscraper in Melbourne, Australia, combines sustainability with the practicality of urban living. When completed, it is projected to be the world’s tallest vertical garden, at 1,197 feet. Already approved by the city, the project will begin this year and is expected to take five years to complete.

The building, which features two plant-laden towers twisting toward the sky, will employ innovative green technology. The skyscraper’s terraces will collect rainwater to be stored underground for irrigation purposes, while water stored in the plants will regulate the building’s temperature. With the help of a landscape architect, the plant life will also be meticulously arranged, with mountainous species planted at higher altitudes and tropical flora planted at lower heights.

Hudson River Park (Manhattan, New York)

Little Island park at Pier 55 in New York, an artificial island park in the Hudson River.
Credit: Creative Family/ Shutterstock

The island of Manhattan is inching toward a long-awaited dream: the first public beach in the city. The Hudson River Park Trust hopes to further transform Manhattan’s waterfront along the river with the addition of a public park on the Gansevoort Peninsula. Located in the city’s Meatpacking District, the park would include a human-made beach, kayak launches, a recreational field, and ample space for lounging.

Planned to be built at the site of the former Department of Sanitation, the project is estimated to cost $70 million and will be located adjacent to the Whitney Museum of American Art. Conveniently, the Whitney is currently constructing a large-scale art installation by David Hammon, which will be accessible to the public on the park’s southern end. When completed, the peninsula will house the largest stretch of greenspace in the pre-existing Hudson River Park.

Net City (Shenzhen, China)

Skyline of Shenzhen Bay and Buildings in China.
Credit: askarim/ Shutterstock

Projected to be completed by 2027, Net City is the brainchild of Chinese tech giant Tencent. While not a greenspace in and of itself, the so-called “Smart City” plans to incorporate ample outdoor space as part of its sustainable initiative. Located in Shenzhen, China, the campus is designed as a futuristic, eco-friendly place for Tencent employees to live and work.

Vehicles will be restricted inside Net City, which aims to integrate a balance between indoor and outdoor living. For the optimal health of its residents, outdoor spaces are a high priority, with gardens, parks, and trees planted on top of most buildings and flood-sensors on the city’s protected waterfront. Thoughtful energy consumption is also of the utmost importance, with urban planning that allows for runoff water to be saved for reuse.

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