Gaining Ground: The Value of Open Space in the Urban Realm

SmithGroup Gaining Ground Perspectives

From Golden Gate Park to Silicon Valley’s tech campuses to high-rise mixed-use developments, open space is a critical component of any community’s quality of life. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted dubbed parks the “lungs of a city,” providing much needed breathing room among vast scale and density. Parks, squares, and recreational facilities that are well-maintained, well-located, and well-funded are an indispensable part of an active and sustainable urban mosaic, providing respite from city life, access to recreation, and environmental and economic benefits.

As cities in the Bay Area continue to grow, the radical transformation of our skylines as well as our population will have a direct impact on the number and quality of urban open space. New strategies and standards for open space planning, preservation, and improvements will be necessary to accommodate viable future uses as undeveloped land becomes increasingly scarce and valuable.

Bringing together a diverse panel of industry thought leaders, we explored the policies and strategies taken by local government, developers, design professionals, and community groups to plan, create, and fund thriving open spaces.