GATHERING PLACE
Tulsa, OK (2011–2018)
The Gathering Place is a 64-acre park situated along the Arkansas River just 2 miles from downtown Tulsa. Funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation and developed in close consultation with city officials and the local community, the new park transforms the terrain of what was originally a flat, windblown and sun-baked site – raising topography in some areas, digging down to water in others, and reintroducing a broad range of native ecologies.

The park, which opens in September 2018, is meant to serve its own neighborhood, but also the city as a whole. Gathering Place program deliberately features an abundance of activities and experiences, so that each visit back could present an opportunity to enjoy something new. Access and circulation are facilitated through strategic car access and parking, regional bike trails that thread through the park, and new pedestrian land bridges that unify the site into a cohesive whole.

Tulsa’s hot summers and the riverfront location inspired the idea that water should be a character-defining element of the park, experienced in play features as well as in the fundamental landscape structure of the park. Topography sub divides the site into a series of smaller spaces, each supporting a wide variety of program where everyone can find something to do. Local stone, used generously throughout the park in a variety of ways, helps connect the Gathering Place to the region’s natural features.

Play spaces within the park are boldly expressive and richly programmed. The complex combination of fantastic elements (for instance, colossal animals and fruit) are interwoven with towers, slides, bridges, and swings to create an environment for imaginative and tactile play along with a robust array of physical challenges. Active sports, like the skateboard park and basketball courts will give teenagers and young adults abundant opportunities to enjoy public space and the riverfront environment. In addition to an exciting array of daytime programs, nighttime use of the Gathering Place is encouraged with eating facilities, dramatic lighting and venues for movies and other programs. The name of the park reveals the guiding vision: this is meant to be a democratic space that brings the people of Tulsa together.
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