London bridging: Penn professor to design park for Olympics and beyond

A professor at the University of Pennsylvania has been chosen to redesign a section of London following the 2012 Olympic Games.

Landscape architect James Corner will create Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park South.


The sports facilities for the upcoming games in East London are already designed and mostly built to accommodate hundreds of thousands of people for two months. Corner, the chair of Landscape Architecture at Penn’s School of Design and the principal behind the High Line park in Manhattan, has been tapped to create the afterlife of that post-industrial section of the city.

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“You have these massive facilities and these massive open spaces, and you have to have these very large-scale open spaces for the sheer number of people who are there during the events,” said Corner. “But those events are very short-lived. Afterwards, the question is, ‘What do we do now?'”

Corner’s winning strategy incorporated the London city planners’ goal of avoid urban dead zones after the international crowds leave. That happened in Beijing.

“The interesting thing about this Olympic plan is that it’s designed for the Olympics, but it’s really designed for the regeneration of East London afterwards,” said Corner. “They are leveraging the investments in the Olympics for a much larger sense of urban renewal and urban regeneration, which is sort of new.”

Corner’s plan includes pedestrian gardens and green spaces sandwiched between two canals, connected by footbridges. His design will be developed immediately following the games, at a cost of about $15 million.

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