BEST PARK WITH POTENTIAL

NCNB Bank Plaza Park

When it opened in 1988, the small urban park on the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa saw little fanfare. It was above street level next to the “beer can building,” making it hard for pedestrians to see it. Maintaining its myriad geometrical pavers and leak-prone canals and fountains proved too much for a cash-strapped city, and it was allowed to go into disrepair. Few in Tampa even knew that the neglected park was internationally studied by students of the work of its designer, Dan Kiley, the most important landscape architect of the past 50 years. With its grass dead and trees overgrown, reflecting pools paved over and fountains long ago turned off, the Kiley-designed park was set for demolition but got a second life when Tampa Museum of Art expansion plans fell apart. Today, a group of preservationists, architects and landscape designers are fighting to bring Kiley’s creation back to life. As an urban oasis along Mayor Pam Iorio’s planned riverwalk, the NCNB Plaza Park might just get its due as a brilliant piece of urban landscape design. 400 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa.

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