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We Believe Public Parks Are Among The Great Cultural Achievements of Humankind.

Complex products of our past, present, and future, parks are mirrors of our collective culture at its best. They are vibrant social commons, the mixing grounds of economic status, race, nationality, and ability that represent the democratic ideal underpinning a truly whole society.

In the face of ongoing global forces of population growth, urbanization, migration, and climate change, OLIN remains dedicated to shaping cities as resilient centers of cultural vibrancy, public health, and natural integrity. Parks represent the generosity of human spirit and nature that makes the increasing density and intensity of our cities possible. As reflections of the challenges we face as a society, parks can also be active agents of change for the better—through programming and design that fosters healthy lifestyles, youth and intergenerational development, and by stabilizing neighborhoods and enhancing land value around them. More than just the places where buildings aren’t, parks play an active role in shaping the urban life of our cities.

Recognizing the central role of the public realm, we work in a continuum of public space from plazas in the densest urban core to the larger, more remote landscapes that provide respite from the intensity of urban life and sustain our connection to nature. Great cities are also the best tools to preserve the rural and distant wilderness spaces that nurture our spirit, minds and bodies. Parks allow people to be a part of, not apart from, nature.

We believe that even one great park can help make the world better.

 

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40 YEARS AND STILL CURIOUS

 

 At OLIN, we’ve spent the last 40 years designing for the public realm, integrating lessons from our other practice areas. We’re relentlessly curious. We consistently strive to understand and untangle the intricacies of how public space works across the globe and in all its forms, from tiny pocket plazas and serene gardens, to bustling urban centers, to college, cultural, and corporate campuses, to big-picture planning for districts, corridors, and entire citywide systems.

 

We’ve identified six characteristics of success found in great parks that make a difference. These principles purposefully go beyond how parks look or function, how big they are or where they are. Found in varying degrees in all our work, we use these as touchstones to support our clients' missions and aspirations.

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Great parks assure access. They have no borders. They are open and inviting to all, an integral part of our neighborhoods. And they connect us to other parks, other neighborhoods, other people, and other experiences.

We believe everybody should be able to walk or bike to a great park.

   11th Street Bridge Park, Washington, DC    This bridge park shows just how literal the notion of “park as connector” can be. While the Anacostia River has long represented a barrier of race, representation, and economic opportunity, 11th Street Bridge Park invites people on both sides of the waterway to convene and cross paths.  

11th Street Bridge Park, Washington, DC
This bridge park shows just how literal the notion of “park as connector” can be. While the Anacostia River has long represented a barrier of race, representation, and economic opportunity, 11th Street Bridge Park invites people on both sides of the waterway to convene and cross paths.  

Oklahoma City Parks Master Plan Access

Oklahoma City Parks Master Plan*
Oklahoma City, OK
The Oklahoma City Parks Master Plan captures a spirit of renewed civic commitment to parks in Oklahoma City, sets a course for strategic improvements to the parks system, and lays a foundation for greater investment in the city’s parks. The plan identifies entry locations to the parks and highlights gaps in the existing trail system where access can be improved. The team also recommended strategies to leverage joint use partnerships as a long-term cost management measure and showed how privately built local parks could enhance access to parks without obligating the City to build additional facilities.

*Completed by Andrew Dobshinsky while at WRT

Oklahoma City Parks Master Plan
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Great parks build community. They are civic spaces that allow voices to be heard—and are themselves a reflection of community priorities and diversity. Parks become part of our lives by building community in the park and park in the community. They have something that can draw everyone in to appreciate and enjoy, from fitness enthusiasts to the casual passer-through.

We believe every park can deepen a sense of community.

   Community Greening Plan,   Harrisburg, PA*    In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Associate Andrew Dobshinsky led a series of events to help community members of all ages imagine all the ways green infrastructure improvements can be designed to improve their neighborhood parks.    *Completed by Andrew Dobshinsky while at WRT

Community Greening Plan, Harrisburg, PA*
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Associate Andrew Dobshinsky led a series of events to help community members of all ages imagine all the ways green infrastructure improvements can be designed to improve their neighborhood parks.

*Completed by Andrew Dobshinsky while at WRT

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Red Hook Housing Renewal
Brooklyn, NY

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, OLIN was commissioned to reconfigure the public space network at the Red Hook Homes affordable public housing in Brooklyn to accommodate new flood protection infrastructure. But what we discovered was a community entirely cut off from its public spaces. We recognized the opportunity to incorporate flood protection while simultaneously creating a network of pocket parks to serve the community and instill a sense of civic pride. We led public meetings designed to put the residents in the driver’s seat, ensuring that their priorities were met, while also incorporating practical maintenance and long-term resiliency strategies. 

 
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Great parks abound in experiences. They are safe and clean spaces that bring together people, activities, and events that excite and inspire us. Designed for flexibility, these parks can  evolve with our ever-changing interests. 

We believe every park should enrich our lives and allow us to learn more about ourselves.

   Pier 26,   New York, NY    In New York City, parks must serve all in a way like no other, and so this two and a half-acre pier in Tribeca packs a wallop in activities and features. We worked intensively with the neighbors who will call this park their own to develop a program including nature walks, lounge areas, a flexible lawn, an adventure playground, two soccer fields, and a fully accessible constructed wetland which allows visitors to connect with—and learn from—the river ecosystem under their feet.

Pier 26, New York, NY
In New York City, parks must serve all in a way like no other, and so this two and a half-acre pier in Tribeca packs a wallop in activities and features. We worked intensively with the neighbors who will call this park their own to develop a program including nature walks, lounge areas, a flexible lawn, an adventure playground, two soccer fields, and a fully accessible constructed wetland which allows visitors to connect with—and learn from—the river ecosystem under their feet.

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Great parks shape identity. They represent who we are and are as unique and authentic as each of us. Their names and their image evoke the best versions of ourselves and our communities. 

We believe every park should physically express our ideas.

   Dilworth Park, Philadelphia, PA     If the City of Philadelphia had a front porch, Dilworth Park would be it. The park is located at the foot of City Hall and at the convergence of multiple transit lines, but many are unaware that the site was once also home to the city’s first water works. That legacy, as well as the stories of transit and civic action are told through the design, with a programmable scrim fountain and future water art installation, generous, welcoming access to the transit lines below the park, and a fully open and accessible topography, allowing for events ranging from farmer’s markets to civic demonstrations.

Dilworth Park, Philadelphia, PA

If the City of Philadelphia had a front porch, Dilworth Park would be it. The park is located at the foot of City Hall and at the convergence of multiple transit lines, but many are unaware that the site was once also home to the city’s first water works. That legacy, as well as the stories of transit and civic action are told through the design, with a programmable scrim fountain and future water art installation, generous, welcoming access to the transit lines below the park, and a fully open and accessible topography, allowing for events ranging from farmer’s markets to civic demonstrations.

The Plaza at Santa Monica

The Plaza at Santa Monica
Santa Monica, CA

A striking hybrid of public, semi-public, and private open space will occupy the street-level plaza and four rooftop terraces in downtown Santa Monica. By alternating the building and rooftop open space, the entirety of the site’s measured area is preserved as programmable open space for a vital hub of office, retail, dining, cultural amenities, hotel, and affordable housing.

The Plaza at Santa Monica
The Plaza at Santa Monica
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Great parks conserve our natural and cultural resources. They reconnect us to nature and safeguard our collective memory. They remind us of what came before us, where we came from, and where we are going.

We believe that every park should secure natural and cultural resources for people to enjoy.

   Mill River Park and Greenway, Stamford, CT    Over more than a decade, we’ve been working with the City of Stamford, Connecticut and the Mill River Park Collaborative to envision and implement a dramatic transformation of Mill River from a polluted and debris-choked channel to a healthy waterfront park and greenway system that reunites people with nature and their waterfront.

Mill River Park and Greenway, Stamford, CT
Over more than a decade, we’ve been working with the City of Stamford, Connecticut and the Mill River Park Collaborative to envision and implement a dramatic transformation of Mill River from a polluted and debris-choked channel to a healthy waterfront park and greenway system that reunites people with nature and their waterfront.

Independence National Historical Park

Independence National Historical Park
Philadelphia, PA

For almost a decade, OLIN worked with the City of Philadelphia and the National Park Service to transform three cluttered and under-used city blocks into a grand park, a fitting and celebratory expanse befitting one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, Independence Hall. The park includes a great lawn which fills with tourists in the summer, a cafe, more intimate, tree-shaded pathways, and a graceful pavilion now home to the Liberty Bell.  

Independence National Historical Park
Independence National Historical Park
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Great parks prove their value. They give back more than what we put into them. Parks can be economic catalysts that can increase the value of their surroundings and revenue generators that offset their maintenance and programming costs..

We believe every park should live up to its highest potential.

   Syracuse Connective Corridor, Syracuse, NY    The Connective Corridor, a linear streetscape park connecting the Syracuse University campus with downtown, demonstrates that iconic design can—and should—be affordable to build and simple to maintain. Durable, locally-sourced materials and a flexible palette of branded elements come together to give this park an identity all its own.

Syracuse Connective Corridor, Syracuse, NY
The Connective Corridor, a linear streetscape park connecting the Syracuse University campus with downtown, demonstrates that iconic design can—and should—be affordable to build and simple to maintain. Durable, locally-sourced materials and a flexible palette of branded elements come together to give this park an identity all its own.

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Roof Park - Vallco Town Center
Cupertino, CA

In growing communities where land values are sky high, we need to elevate our thinking about how public parkland can keep pace.  Our design for a 30-acre signature roof park—the size of a community park—over a mixed-use development helps transform a failed mall into a multi-dimensional community asset in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Vallco Town Center
Vallco Town Center
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