Ten Qualities of a Great Waterfront Destination

December 27, 2011 8 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

As Jacksonville continues its efforts in bringing life back to downtown, here are ten qualities of a great waterfront destination, according to Project for Public Spaces.

3. Activities go on Round-the-Clock and Throughout the Year

Although one mile south of Jacksonville's Northbank, the Riverside Arts Market is an example of year-round waterfront programming.

Waterfronts that thrive year-round will reap substantial community and economic benefits. Rain or cold is no reason for a waterfront to sit empty. Creative programming can take rainy and winter weather into account, and smart use of amenities can provide protection from inclement weather. Likewise, people enjoy being by the water at night if appropriate lighting and special events make them feel welcome and safe.

4. Flexible Design Fosters Adaptability

Charleston's Waterfront Park.

Successful waterfronts must adapt to many changes that bring different users at different times. Programming and management are helpful in serving diverse audiences, but flexibility must also be built into the design of the place. Instead of a permanent stage, for example, which is well-used in the summer but not the winter, a retractable or temporary stage could be used. Likewise, it is important to have on-site storage for movable chairs, tables, umbrellas, and games so they can be used at a moment’s notice.

5. Creative Amenities Boost Everyone’s Enjoyment

Detroit International Riverfront contains a mix of amenities clustered together within a compact setting.

The best waterfronts feature amenities that increase people’s comfort and enjoyment. A bench or waste receptacle in just the right location makes a surprising difference in how people choose to use a place. Lighting strengthens a square’s identity and can draw attention to specific activities, pathways or entrances. Public art is a great magnet for children of all ages to come together. Whether temporary or permanent, amenities help establish a convivial setting for social interaction.

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