For decades, our sunny city parks were blotted out by the massive concrete overpasses that were constructed to bring traffic through town. Now, in the wake of the High Line’s success, the trend’s gone the other way: parks that are built above the cars. While Seattle built the first raised park over a freeway in the 1970s, other cities have taken up the solution in the past few years, including Dallas, which covered one of its freeways with a five-acre park in 2012.
The best and latest example of that trend? The Buckhead Park Over GA400, a proposal to construct a 2,400-foot long overpass of greenery above a highway that runs through Buckhead, a business and residential district in Atlanta. Proposed by architects and planners at the New York-based Roger Partners, which also enlisted the help of landscape architects at Nelson Byrd Woltz, the overpass park is meant to be a panacea for the pedestrian problems of car-choked Atlanta, connecting areas of Buckhead which have been disconnected since the Georgia State Route 400 freeway bisected the neighborhood in the ’90s.
Featuring ample connecting pedestrian paths that allow it to be used as a neighborhood thoroughfare, the park will be made up of three distinct sections. On the north end, there’s the Commons, containing an amphitheater for gatherings and performances. The Plaza, located in the middle of the park, would be a more retail-oriented public space, where park goers could easily gain access to surrounding shops and restaurants. Finally there’s the Gardens, a fragrant oasis of greenery where visitors can simply bliss out.
In fact, the Buckhead Park Over GA400 isn’t the only elevated park proposed for Atlanta. Another planned project, from a group called Central Atlanta Progress, recently proposed the Stitch: a $300 million plan to build over a half-mile stretch of interstate highway in downtown Atlanta, essentially turning the roadway into a tunnel capped with parks. As debates continue to rage about the price tag of that project, the Buckhead park’s comparatively frugal $150 million budget could make it a more attractive taxpayer option.
Both projects point to a national trend, with cities thinking about how parkland and landscape can mitigate a range of problems, including climate change. For example, the last section of the Buckhead park, the Garden, was specifically designed to help mitigate Atlanta’s urban heat island effect–which makes the city significantly warmer than the greener regions outside of it.
[All Images: via Roger Partners]