Charleston's New Gadsdenboro Park

The more successfully a city mingles everyday diversity of uses and users in its everyday streets, the more successfully, casually (and economically) its people thereby enliven and support well-located parks that can thus give back grace and delight to their neighborhoods instead of vacuity.
— Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Charleston has two brand new parks to be proud of: the small Theodora Park at the corner of George and Anson Streets, and the large Gadsdenboro Park between Washington and Concord.

I recently took a tour of Gadsdenboro Park.  I wanted to point out the scale of the park.  In this aerial plan you can see the approximate scale in relation to Marion Square. 

So it is a decent sized park.  Kudos to the City for making this big investment.  This is a major amenity to the City and will help foster more development in this area.

This aerial shows a more detailed view of the park layout.

I would call this a ring park or a donut park.  Or to be more descriptive, it is a park that is open in the middle, with a bunch of stuff around the perimeter.  Similar to Marion Square. Perhaps the landscape architects out there can chime in with a more academic description of this park type?

The center area has been designed so that two soccer fields will fit.  Since I wasn't going to be playing soccer, I spent my time walking around the perimeter looking at all the park features.

Here are some of the things I saw:

Lots of Pretty Flowers

Sure seems appropriate for a park right?  They did a great job at planting a variety of landscaping.  Lots of great colors.

Cozy Seating

The perimeter of the park includes lots of great little seating areas.

I met this great couple.  Darby and Daniel have lived in this area for a long time and were happy to see this park get finished.  They were spending the afternoon with their grandchildren.  We talked a lot about all of the development occurring in this area.  I bragged to them that my firm LS3P designed the bathrooms for the park.  They thanked me and said they were very happy about the bathrooms!

Yay Bathrooms!

This may seam silly, but these little restrooms are a big deal.  It is very hard to come across public restrooms in the city.  For example, if you walk all the way down to the Battery and have to are out of luck.

Luckily the City wised up and had these facilities included in the plan.  Hats off to my colleagues at LS3P, Brian Wurst and Ben Anderson for the design of this nifty little building.

Playground Equipment

There is an area in the park for the kiddies.


This sculpture is pretty rad.  From a distance it appears to be a dinosaur skeleton.  Upon closer inspection it is stainless steel seagulls.  Of course I am a knucklehead and didn't take notice of the artist.  A little help?

No Love for the Skateboarders!

The problem with skateboarders is that they like to grind on corners.  So these brand new precast planters are likely to get covered in skateboard wax and get scuffed up.  Hopefully that doesn't happen.  But history says it will.

Great Materials

The concrete path along the perimeter was a little disappointing, but the hand-made bricks and granite edging are very nice.  The precast planters look good and will last for a very long time.

More Pretty Flowers

I included these because Danielle wants to know what kind of flowers those are.  Little help?


There are a couple of chess boards on the North side of the park.  Danielle challenged Danielle to a match.  Danielle won.


Did someone say bocce?

There is a great looking bocce court on the North side.  Personally I am more of a beach bocce player.  My strategy is to throw the bocce balls as far as possible.  Turn it into a strength competition.

So what did I think?

Gadsdenboro Park is very attractive and it's biggest strength would be the variety of features.  Places to play, places to sit and things to admire.  A wonderful amenity!

My biggest criticism would be the lack of shade.  The brand new trees are tiny and the shade structures are minimal.  And I don't know if you noticed....but it is HOT in Charleston.

In five years those trees will be large and lush and it will be a different story.

I encourage everyone to make a trip down to Gadsdenboro park and tell me what you think.


Steve Ramos, AIA 

Haven't gotten your fill of Charleston's beauty?  Here are a few more goodies:


South of Broad

12 Walls

Join the Buildings Are Cool Email List!

* indicates required