Cafeapolis on Gold Medal Park

Originally uploaded by The Tube.

I haven’t made it down to Gold Medal Park yet. I’ve heard good (albeit vague) things. Adrienne at Cafeapolis offers up her views on the look, feel, and function. The synopsis: “admirable but boring.” Thumbs up for more green space downtown. Thumbs down for usability.

She breaks it down pretty well. I’d be interested to hear what other urban planning wonks have to say about it (I’m looking at you, Stephen Gross).

3 Comments so far

  1. jenni (unregistered) on June 26th, 2007 @ 12:55 pm

    i love gold medal park. we’ve had a picnic, played bocce, and laid in the grass there more than once. there aren’t many places you can do that right in downtown. runners seem to love the spiraling sidewalk, too.

    i don’t really understand why a park would need more than just open space to not be called ‘boring’. the claim that it will just attract the homeless is kind of shortsighted.

    also, you can hear the yelling at the metrodome during twins games. that’s pretty awesome.

  2. Stephen Gross (unregistered) on June 26th, 2007 @ 2:13 pm

    I’m flattered to have been requested to comment on the park :) If I were more diligent, I would have already posted an entry on it, seeing as I live right across the river from it along St. Anthony Main and saw the park soon after its construction was finished.

    Ok, the Cafeapolis review is pretty much dead-on: urban parks MUST be first and foremost USEFUL. If there is any lesson to be learned from the history of urban greenspace, it’s that green for the sake of green is an unproductive tactic. Planners who craft exquisite greenspace are surprised to discovered that locals don’t actually visit their parks. Urban parks, in these cases, function more as urban sculpture than anything else.

    Is Gold Medal Park usable? Maybe for some. I, like many residents in and around downtown, enjoy running through the area. The circular path of the park is nice to run up and down. It also offers a beautiful view of the riverbank from the top (nice for summer evening date-nights).

    But besides that, it’s not very usable. It’s a lot of wide-open greenspace with little seating and little tree cover. Conceivably, one could play croquet there. I don’t understand who is supposed to be spending time in this park…? The condo-dwellers in Bridgewater ($250k and up) across the street? I think not–the park is pretty to look at, but what would one do IN it?

    All of which gets me back to my point about decorative, sculptural greenspace in an urban setting: despite the best intentions of landscape architects, city-dwellers simply do not hang out in greenspaces just because they’re there.

    For a good contrast, go visit Lake Calhoun on a nice Saturday. Good luck finding parking! That place is PACKED. (Lesson to be learned: humans ARE drawn to water–go read Melville if you doubt me).

  3. Erica M (unregistered) on June 26th, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

    On account of all this, I’ll be taking my girl and a picnic dinner over there tomorrow evening (assuming good weather). See for myself, dammit.

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