We told you HERE that the City of Orlando had just issued a Request for Qualifications Statements to officially launch the process of selecting a consultant to complete a design and construction plan for an almost 10-acre future park under the I-4 interstate in downtown Orlando.
But we can’t just sit around imagining things we’d like to see in our ideal urban park project that nobody asked for, we want to help manifest some good ideas by speaking them “aloud,” or rather typing them here for you to read about.
For our list, we looked at inspirational underpass parks like The Underline in Miami, The Bentway in Toronto, Burnside Skatepark in Portland, and The Underground at Ink Block in Boston.
Like what you see? Follow our Pinterest account HERE for more fun ideas.
OUT OF THE BOX ART
The newly-opened Underground at Ink Block (Website) is an eight-acre park under a raised highway in South Boston that has really embraced murals. In fact, the park already has about 150,000 SF of murals painted and growing. Imagine unveiling the park with Orlando’s version of the SHINE Mural Festival in St. Petersburg.
While we’re discussing underpasses and mural art, you should check out this documentary about Chicano Park in San Diego, which features some fantastic pieces by local artists.
Murals can also be used to simply mark a space as special, like the breathtaking Pigalle Basketball Court in Paris, France.
The Wabash Lights is an awesome installation that’s looking to affix roughly 600 lights to the underside of Chicago’s elevated train tracks along Wabash Avenue and it’s going to transform the entire corridor.
Another idea would be a series of projections like this installation by light artist Erwin Redl in Charlotte, North Carolina.
BE BIKE FRIENDLY
This park is going to serve as a membrane, or connecting tissue between the Parramore neighborhood and downtown Orlando, and should allow for multiple access points to increase those points of connection. That means infrastructure like cool bike racks, bike paths, and maybe some points of interest like what remains of this bike park in Seattle.
An added benefit of biking along the underpass means it shelters you from rain and allows you to skip some of the traffic in the downtown core.
The Under-i is located just west of the Orlando Urban Trail/Gertrude’s Walk trail so encouraging people to bike rather than drive downtown should be a no-brainer when designing this new urban park.
PLACES FOR PLAY
The City wants downtown to be more child and family-friendly and this new park could play a vital role in letting families feel comfortable dipping their toes into the downtown pool. But we can’t just encourage play and active exploration just by declaring downtown child-friendly, we need to design it to foster safe, exploratory play that keeps them coming back week after week. And they have to be “radically inclusive” – more on that term in the video above.
Play-ces (see what we did there?) of note that do this well include Jungle Gym at Nashville Zoo, the Nishi-Rokugo Park in Tokyo, Japan, crochet artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam’s sculptural playground in Hokkaido, Japan, and City Museum’s playground in St. Louis.
Since the City first started chatting publicly about building a park under the interstate, people have been bringing up concerns of air pollutants from the traffic overhead. A great way to deal with not only airborne pollutants from traffic, but also to recover rainwater runoff and change the context of an urban setting is to add plants. Architect Fernando Ortiz Monasterio recently designed and installed a series of vertical gardens in Mexico City in a project he called Via Verde that transformed more than 1,000 concrete columns in the city’s urban core.
The added benefit of increasing habitat options for local wildlife is a total bonus. We could even incorporate tricks like Bird Brick Houses into the design of any accessory structures in the park.