PARADISE, UNPAVED: In Houston, the creation of the 12-acre Discovery Green (left) on land that formerly held parking lots has changed the way that meeting planners perceive the city, its leaders say. In Indianapolis, the 250-acre urban green- space, White River State Park, is right across the street from the Indiana Convention Center. In addition to a canal (below), the park offers visitors access to museums, public art, concerts on the lawn, and running and walking paths.
The nonprofit organization Project for Public Spaces (PPS) analyzes how well scores of global destinations support human interaction and offers guidelines for creating people-cen- tered places. To learn more, visit http://pps .org. And read Convene’s Leading by Example profile of PPS founder Fred Kent at http://bit.ly/Convene-PPS.
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on a weekend and if the Cardinals were not playing [at St. Louis’ downtown baseball stadium], it was dead, dead, dead.Nowthere are throngs of people. People bring their children and grand- children to the park, but young people also consider it a hip place
Convention Centers in HighlyWalkable Places
to have a date. People walk their dogs. Everyone there seems pleased to be there. It just creates a good vibe.” Wagman didn’t offer any empirical evidence that the park pro-
duces oxytocin in visitors, but his description of the mood it evokes makes that seem likely: “It has the feeling of being at a sporting event where your team is winning.” Citygarden is six blocks away from the America’s Center Con-
vention Complex; conference attendees often head to the park, particularly if it’s a beautiful day, said Donna Andrews, direc- tor of public relations for the St. Louis Convention&Visitors Commission. Andrews herself often eats her lunch there. “It’s an oasis in the heart of downtown,” she said. “I love to go there and just watch the people.” The park’s designers “created something obviously marvelous
and of universal appeal,”Wagman said. “Its immense popular- ity shows the hunger for this kind of space that we could only have guessed at.”
Barbara Palmer is a senior editor of Convene.
14. George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston
Walk Score: 83 The creation of the 12-acre Discovery Green
68 pcma convene February 2012 in down-
town Houston has brought global attention to the city. In 2011, Discovery Park, adjacent to the convention center, was the recipi- ent of one of the first World Architecture News Effectiveness Awards, given to projects that profoundly affect society.
15. Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis
Walk Score: 80 Twelve hotelswith a combined
4,700 rooms are con-
nected via climate-controlled skywalks to the recently expanded Indiana Convention Center—more hotel rooms connected to a center than anywhere else in the United States. Additionally, there are more than 200 restaurants and 50 major attractions within walking distance of the center, as well as White River State Park, a 250-acre urban green space, right across the street.