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  1. #1

    Default Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Architect: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park | Tulsa World

    Michael Van Valkenburgh is coming to town.

    If the name doesn't ring a bell, it will soon. Van Valkenburgh, president of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc., and his team of landscape architects are about to transform the face of Tulsa with a world-class park along Riverside Drive.


    It's called the Gathering Place for Tulsa, and Tuesday the public is invited to attend the unveiling of the final plan for the 55-acre park.

    Van Valkenburgh will be there to share his vision.

    "I think the park is remarkably diverse and the kind of place it is hard to imagine people won't come back to," Van Valkenburgh said. "I think the design is incredibly successful in connecting the Blair (Mansion) site to the Arkansas River."

    The project is being funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation at an estimated cost of $100 million to $150 million.

    Jeff Stava, who is overseeing the park project for the foundation, said Van Valkenburgh's team has addressed every design challenge thrown at it.

    "The result is the creation of a new, dynamic public space capturing not only the city's physical beauty but civic spirit as well - a place all Tulsans will enjoy," Stava said.

    Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates was selected to design the park in July 2011, but it was months earlier, on a snowy February day, that Van Valkenburgh and his team first laid eyes on the park property.

    "Our breath was taken away with the generosity and the feeling of the Blair site and the challenge of how the rest of the site - which is this wonderful river's edge - could somehow feel connected," Van Valkenburgh said, "because, if you go there now, they feel really separate."

    Earlier versions of the park plan, which incorporates input gathered from five public meetings, call for ponds, playgrounds and land bridges connecting the Blair property to the River Parks trails.

    The designers knew "that if we could figure out a way to tie that all together, we would have something much more powerful than what you have on the site today," Van Valkenburgh said.

    Although the final design won't be made public until Tuesday, the 61-year-old native of upstate New York let it be known that the original design differs somewhat from the final design.

    "I think that what we hadn't stressed at all in the early versions of the design was how much Tulsa is into eating outside - sort of the outdoor eating culture of the city," Van Valkenburgh said. "People were like, 'Oh, it would be great to go there and have places to get a beer, barbecue, stuff like that.' So that definitely changed the elements we included."

    Van Valkenburgh may be best known for his design of Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., with its magnificent views of New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline.

    He lives just blocks from the park and never stays away long.

    "It is just magnetic to go and to be around that many people having a good time - just having fun, kicking back," he said.

    Van Valkenburgh expects the Gathering Place for Tulsa to have the same appeal - not simply because of its amenities, which will be numerous and varied, but because of its borrowed landscape.

    "What a gift this site is - the site is incredible already," he said. "That is what reminds me of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

    "In Tulsa, the context is different, but it is very powerful - just a great place for somebody to ask you to design a park because it is already so good."

    The park, Van Valkenburgh believes, says a lot about the city.

    "It is remarkably ambitious," he said. "This level of care and regard for the quality of life in the city is reflected by the magnitude of the project.

    "In its own way, it is sort of like Tulsa trying to make its own version of New York's Central Park or San Francisco's Crissy Field."
    Public meeting

    What: Unveiling of Gathering Place for Tulsa final plans

    When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

    Where: TCC Center for Creativity, 910 S. Boston Ave.
    Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates projects

    Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York

    Teardrop Park, New York

    Hudson River Parks, New York

    George W. Bush Presidential Center, Dallas

    Mill Race Park, Columbus, Ind.

    North Grant Park, Chicago

    Allegheny Riverfront Park, Pittsburgh

    Lower Don Lands, Toronto

  2. #2

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park


  3. #3

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    This park will blow our Central Park out of the water and has private funding which ours will not.....

    Model Of 'A Gathering Place For Tulsa' Unveiled To The Public - NewsOn6.com

  4. #4

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    This is going to be really wonderful for Tulsa. I agree with la, it's going to blow our Central Park out of the water.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Quote Originally Posted by OnlyOne View Post
    This is going to be really wonderful for Tulsa. I agree with la, it's going to blow our Central Park out of the water.
    Looks nice but what is so superior with this compared to the new Central Park?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Personal preference as much as anything I suppose. I prefer the overall design and scheme of Tulsa's plan. I like that it's along the river. It just has a classier feel to it. A little less manufactured, a little more park if that makes any sense.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Quote Originally Posted by adaniel View Post
    Looks nice but what is so superior with this compared to the new Central Park?
    The design fits the site. It's better thought out and had more depth.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Cool, a park along a river that looks like crap half of the year. . . can't wait to visit it. Meanwhile, our park will be truly a world class venue that will sit right in the dead center of an urban metropolis if everything goes well with Core2Shore. If the momentum continues, the area our park will be in, will be a one of a kind place in our entire region.

    Dallas is building a park along the Trinity river similar to Tulsa's, and I'm sure there are many more like it. However, our central park, should trump anything Dallas has and Tulsa is not even in the same league.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Quote Originally Posted by plutonic panda View Post
    cool, a park along a river that looks like crap half of the year. . . Can't wait to visit it. Meanwhile, our park will be truly a world class venue that will sit right in the dead center of an urban metropolis if everything goes well with core2shore. If the momentum continues, the area our park will be in, will be a one of a kind place in our entire region.

    Dallas is building a park along the trinity river similar to tulsa's, and i'm sure there are many more like it. However, our central park, should trump anything dallas has and tulsa is not even in the same league.
    That's funny!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    I know right!!!!!!

  11. #11

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    I absolutely think this is wonderful for Tulsa but I see no reason to compare it what OKC is doing. We don't have a private entity willing to spend $200 million for our park and ours is being built in a cleared urban area. It's like comparing apples and oranges.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    We can trash talk all day long about the two parks however, we really need to wait for the finished products in both cities before the actual trash talk can began.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Quote Originally Posted by MWCGuy View Post
    We can trash talk all day long about the two parks however, we really need to wait for the finished products in both cities before the actual trash talk can began.
    Yep, both cities have a track record of failed projects like this throughout their histories. Better to wait to see what really happens.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Quote Originally Posted by Plutonic Panda View Post
    Cool, a park along a river that looks like crap half of the year. . . can't wait to visit it. Meanwhile, our park will be truly a world class venue that will sit right in the dead center of an urban metropolis if everything goes well with Core2Shore. If the momentum continues, the area our park will be in, will be a one of a kind place in our entire region.

    Dallas is building a park along the Trinity river similar to Tulsa's, and I'm sure there are many more like it. However, our central park, should trump anything Dallas has and Tulsa is not even in the same league.
    Neither of the parks is anything revolutionary. Don't pretend that Central Park is a new idea. And why will the park in Tulsa look like crap half the year? If you're referring to most plants being dormant then wouldn't that same logic apply to Central Park?

    Although I really do like the Central Park in OKC, my personal preference, at least from the renderings, is for A Gathering Place in Tulsa. Central Park is too structured and organized looking for my taste. Feels less like a park and more like a garden. I like the more random (although it is not) feel of A Gathering Place. This is just my personal preference, which clearly differs from yours. There's no reason to trash the park planned for Tulsa simply because you like the one planned in OKC better. They are both well-planned and will be great successes if built as planned.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    You know what, ljbab is right, you really can't compare these parks as they serve a different purpose really. The park looking like crap half of the year comment was aimed at the river not being full. My question to you is, why does Tulsa not build any kind of locks to channel in the water to keep it looking good? Tulsa is loosing out and fast. Sorry to say to you, a privately funded park and a casino does not signify a good economy. I hope Tulsa has plans in place to upgrade the infrastructure around this park in order to make it appealing to new development.

    It may be misconstrued at times that I want Tulsa to fail, but at this time, a reality ought to be recognized that Tulsa is no longer the top dog(if it ever was) and OKC dominates Tulsa. If the cities could share and play nice, that would be great, but it seems at times, a lot of people from Tulsa don't want anything to do with OKC and demean it; it is really bad online too!

  16. #16

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    I like OKC, but it is a completely different city from Tulsa. Have you looked at development in Tulsa lately? There's a whole lot more than just this park and the casino. The Brady and Blue Dome Districts are continuing to fill out nicely, 70 new apartments were just completed in the Greenwood District, the East End is on the verge of explosion, many of the old buildings in the CBD are being converted to apartments, the list could go on.

    Since when does privately funded development signify a bad economy? What new development do you expect to go around this park? The area is filled in with housing built long ago.

    I haven't seen Tulsans on here demeaning OKC. It's usually people from OKC demeaning Tulsa and then justifying it by saying that Tulsans don't like their city. Grow up and stop acting like either city needs to cede power or recognize the dominance of the other.

    That's not what this thread is about, however. It's a thread about a park in Tulsa, a park which is being built and maintained by the GKFF, not the city. I view that as a good thing as I trust Kaiser more than the city when it comes to upkeep.

    Do you have any idea how much it costs to build low water dams? How dangerous they can be? Have you done studies to assess the environmental impact of said dams? Personally I don't understand the obsession with water in the river at all times. Let's just leave it as it is and enjoy the water when it rains. Dams will just add further expense both initially and with maintenance to the city government. Money that be much better spent focusing on land where the major development is occurring.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Quote Originally Posted by Plutonic Panda View Post
    You know what, ljbab is right, you really can't compare these parks as they serve a different purpose really. The park looking like crap half of the year comment was aimed at the river not being full. My question to you is, why does Tulsa not build any kind of locks to channel in the water to keep it looking good? Tulsa is loosing out and fast. Sorry to say to you, a privately funded park and a casino does not signify a good economy. I hope Tulsa has plans in place to upgrade the infrastructure around this park in order to make it appealing to new development.

    It may be misconstrued at times that I want Tulsa to fail, but at this time, a reality ought to be recognized that Tulsa is no longer the top dog(if it ever was) and OKC dominates Tulsa. If the cities could share and play nice, that would be great, but it seems at times, a lot of people from Tulsa don't want anything to do with OKC and demean it; it is really bad online too!

    The part of the river where the park is located IS filled with water. The Zink Lake dam has been there for 30 years or more.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Quote Originally Posted by ZYX2 View Post
    I like OKC, but it is a completely different city from Tulsa. Have you looked at development in Tulsa lately? There's a whole lot more than just this park and the casino. The Brady and Blue Dome Districts are continuing to fill out nicely, 70 new apartments were just completed in the Greenwood District, the East End is on the verge of explosion, many of the old buildings in the CBD are being converted to apartments, the list could go on.

    Since when does privately funded development signify a bad economy? What new development do you expect to go around this park? The area is filled in with housing built long ago.

    I haven't seen Tulsans on here demeaning OKC. It's usually people from OKC demeaning Tulsa and then justifying it by saying that Tulsans don't like their city. Grow up and stop acting like either city needs to cede power or recognize the dominance of the other.

    That's not what this thread is about, however. It's a thread about a park in Tulsa, a park which is being built and maintained by the GKFF, not the city. I view that as a good thing as I trust Kaiser more than the city when it comes to upkeep.

    Do you have any idea how much it costs to build low water dams? How dangerous they can be? Have you done studies to assess the environmental impact of said dams? Personally I don't understand the obsession with water in the river at all times. Let's just leave it as it is and enjoy the water when it rains. Dams will just add further expense both initially and with maintenance to the city government. Money that be much better spent focusing on land where the major development is occurring.
    Yeah, I've been to Tulsa about three times in the past 4 weeks, it sucked every time. The roads were horrible(yes worse than OKC), the people were alright, the city was bleak; at night it was worse, Blue Dome District and Brady District had tons of vacant lots and no momentum. Midtown has a bunch of vacant lots as well, but at least there are tons of infill projects, I couldn't even begin to list what is coming, there is whole website full of it(oh thats here!!!!!!).

    Never said it signifies a bad economy, but when all a city really has to show for is a new park and a new casino, meanwhile we're over here looking at a new-somewhatish-lifestyle center with huge retailer names, 30 story spec tower, streetcar system, two massive urban housing units etc..... That's all I meant by it. There are no urban developments that even come close to what OKC is getting, and C2S will only make that worse.

    As for what this thread is about, I understand what this is about and I posted my opinions on it. I can't tell you how many times I've seen Tulsans bash OKC on the internet and in real life. I was at Cazs or something like that, in the Brady district as soon as I mentioned I was from OKC, a group of people I was sitting with went on a rant about the place and how Tulsa was on the rise going to stomp OKC. All I could do was shake my head as any time I tried to defend OKC and set the facts straight, they were like a group of monkeys and started getting loud and stupid. This has happened on multiple occasions with different people. A strong, leading, and dominant city does need to be recognized and that is OKC!

    As far as the dam issue, give me a freakin' break man. . . OKC built their locks just fine, I'm sure Tulsa can do it. Are they still having to turn off their highway lights at night due to lack of funding?

  19. #19

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Not here to defend Tulsa, because what posters have said about Tulsans just absolutely hating OKC beyond reason is true, but it does have many things going for it. Obviously, OKC is progressing much faster: NBA, complete Downtown reinvention, streetcar, office towers, residential, etc., but Tulsa is a smaller city that has had a leg up on OKC in many ways. I see Tulsa subtly refining itself, while OKC is booming. The phenomena are very different but frankly OKC needs to boom to match some of the quality of life offerings Tulsa has had for much longer.

    Economically speaking, though, OKC is reaching critical mass and is far more dynamic than Tulsa at this point. For many years, OKC's economy was almost entirely tied to government employment, but it is now a cradle of private and public sector employment. The cities are not on the same level now, as OKC is quickly moving toward big-league status while Tulsa is still a very nice city, but not one that is among the top tier of cities.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Quote Originally Posted by ZYX2 View Post
    Do you have any idea how much it costs to build low water dams? How dangerous they can be? Have you done studies to assess the environmental impact of said dams? Personally I don't understand the obsession with water in the river at all times. Let's just leave it as it is and enjoy the water when it rains. Dams will just add further expense both initially and with maintenance to the city government. Money that be much better spent focusing on land where the major development is occurring.
    We just build some like ten years ago, so we have a good idea of cost. Though I am not sure if it was intentional or not but something thing that ended up working out nice for OKC's is the parks and spaces that encourage people to be near the river are away from the dams and the zone of water that are problematic, and the parts near the dams are generally pretty isolated with little or nothing to draw people to them. It seems like part of the problem Tulsa has had is that a park was constructed right by the worst spot for people go if they are to get in the water; with parking, grand steps/amphitheater down to the bank of part of the danger area and aesthetic features that could give a false sense of security to the area. I am sure people could still do something stupid and die at ours but they would either have to walk pretty far out of the way or swim several hundred meters to a couple thousand meters to do so. It would be an improvement if the corp of engineers would come up with better markers, probably that would even say do not go past them large enough everyone will see that, if it was not for being told by more experienced people what they marked I would not have gotten the clue what they were. Given Tulsa has had more issues with safety at the low water dam there, it is a bit odd that the safety markers there are not at least as far out as the ones here (theirs are like 50ft verses ours at like 300ft). Tulsa and OKC as far as economic impact of building dams are in different situations, the area that borders the river is already built up in Tulsa so new dams would not add as much value added as it did here, here the amount it elevated the property values and lead to new building along it of hotels and commercial property has collected several times what the cost was and still has a lot more developable land, the fact that it makes the areas looks nicer and has added recreational opportunities was just bonuses.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Quote Originally Posted by soonerguru View Post
    Not here to defend Tulsa, because what posters have said about Tulsans just absolutely hating OKC beyond reason is true, but it does have many things going for it. Obviously, OKC is progressing much faster: NBA, complete Downtown reinvention, streetcar, office towers, residential, etc., but Tulsa is a smaller city that has had a leg up on OKC in many ways. I see Tulsa subtly refining itself, while OKC is booming. The phenomena are very different but frankly OKC needs to boom to match some of the quality of life offerings Tulsa has had for much longer.

    Economically speaking, though, OKC is reaching critical mass and is far more dynamic than Tulsa at this point. For many years, OKC's economy was almost entirely tied to government employment, but it is now a cradle of private and public sector employment. The cities are not on the same level now, as OKC is quickly moving toward big-league status while Tulsa is still a very nice city, but not one that is among the top tier of cities.
    That's a very fair assessment.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    The low water dam that creates Zink Lake is right by this park, and will eventually be rebuilt 3-4 feet higher than it is currently and with a gradual step decline to lessen the danger if you happen to go over. That way it will also look less like a dam and more like a natural waterfall. There is a natural fall in the river at this location as well as a rock jetty that creates rapids below the dam that will be preserved for kayakers. Also as part of a funding package that will go to voters in November the pedestrian bridge will have two levels, one for joggers below and one for bikes above that will tie into the Midland Valley trail that goes to downtown and the river trails on both banks, all of which have been updated with dual lanes for bikes and joggers.

    You cant compare the North Canadian/Oklahoma River to the Arkansas, as they are very different. It is much easier and cheaper to build dams on the Oklahoma because it is less than half the width and flows are much less, while the Arkansas in a quarter mile wide and drains a large part of the region.

    The design of the park is meant to connect with the river while also creating a public green space out of what has been a private piece of property for many years. It includes plans to connect to the surrounding area through a new trail along Crow Creek to Brookside a half mile to the east and eventually includes a plan to build a childrens museum, in addition to the new building already planned. Wiliams and ONEOK have already commoted over $25 million to the construction of these structures so it's not entirely privately funded by GKFF.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Good for Tulsa and its residents. It definitely seems more naturally-fitting than the OKC Core to Shore park. If realized, it will be successful off the bat with a ready population of across-the-street users. It will be close Utica Square and Brookside in the tony Midtown part of Tulsa.

    I'll say this for OKC, though: the Core to Shore park won't have the ready-made user base, but it does provide an opportunity to placemake from scratch. It's an absolute necessity to build dense neighborhoods to surround the park with a local users, but we can do it with a greater variety of housing types and killer, walkable commercial districts on either side of the park. Whereas A Gathering Place for Tulsa will vastly improve how Midtown Tulsa interfaces with the river, the Core to Shore park will have a greater POTENTIAL to be a game-changer for the city. We just have to execute a bold vision well.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    I am just going to say that despite Panda's claims that many, many Tulsans have been giving him the business about OKC....Panda was the one bringing the heat to this thread, in the Tulsa forum, and then complaining that we Tulsans are the problem. Nevermind that he doesn't know what he is talking about in regards to almost every statement he has made about the City of Tulsa or what is going on here.

    I think there is another general assumption that is taking place with this larger discussion, which is that Tulsa is looking to emulate OKC. It's just not true. I can say it as one who is highly involved in these things here...OKC only comes up in discussions about distributions of capital, and bias in the State offices (i.e. Department of Transportation, State Legislature.), and State entities like The State Board Of Regents or the OU Board of Regents. It's normal stuff. Most states have this kind of competition because resources are limited. I digress... The concept that we are jealous of OKC's growth is a red herring. Tulsa's goal is not to be an "NBA City". Our identity isn't tied to that kind of recognition. Our identity is going to be attached to our inherent quality of life capacity, our support for the Arts at all levels, our thirst for culture, our acceptance of diversity, opportunities for quality education at all levels, and of our support for entrepreneurship. We think those things will ultimately result in the best kind of economic strength...an organic, interconnected community that accepts and attracts and retains talented people and supports families of all kinds.

    So you all who say OKC and Tulsa are growing in different directions are right. We are growing differently, and it's more by design than you are giving credit for.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Gathering Place for Tulsa will be world-class park

    Quote Originally Posted by Chautauqua View Post
    I am just going to say that despite Panda's claims that many, many Tulsans have been giving him the business about OKC....Panda was the one bringing the heat to this thread, in the Tulsa forum, and then complaining that we Tulsans are the problem. Nevermind that he doesn't know what he is talking about in regards to almost every statement he has made about the City of Tulsa or what is going on here.
    Keep telling yourself that. I'll let the actions speak for themselves. Let's see where Tulsa is in 15 years vs. OKC.

    BTW, I frequently visit Tulsa, and the place is turning into a dump, really fast. Bring some leadership and vision to your city, and I'll respect it. To add, that, just completely forget that I have mentioned I sincerely hope it works out for Tulsa and that they benefit from this. Forget that I have posted several threads in this section in concern for Tulsa and their projects.

    I speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and if that is too much for you handle, I don't know what else to say there, ol' chap.

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