Park Designers

Sasaki Logo

“Our aim is to make Smale Riverfront Park an enduring landscape—a significant space that will last for generations.”
            —Sasaki Associates

Sasaki Associates—which has created some of the most recognizable icons of modern landscape architecture—was selected as the design firm for Smale Riverfront Park in 2001. Sasaki Associates’ work was inspired by the input of citizen stake-holders at a series of public meetings and focus groups that began in 1998. The design plans are consistent with the area’s Master Plan—approved in 1999 by the City, County, Planning Commission, Park Board and the Urban Design Review —created by Hargreaves Associates.

Advernture Play
Ladies Garden
Black Brigade

Here’s a look at the design team behind the creation of Smale Riverfront Park.

Talking with Smale Riverfront Park’s Design Principals

Mark O. Dawson, ASLA / Principal / Landscape Architect

“This park is about connecting the city/community to the river—literally. That is what we heard when we researched the city’s colorful history and talked to the people here. That need to reconnect to the river is because of the history of the city’s relationship to their river. The high bank nature of the river enabled commerce to flourish along Cincinnati’s Main Street where goods came into Cincinnati on the commons. People want to physically reconnect to that heritage. When you go back to the places that are part of a shared history, families come, people come. It changes the perception of a city. This project can change the perception of the city.”

Alistair McIntosh, ASLA, RIBA / Principal / Landscape Architect / Architect

“The park possesses many different personalities, with activity options as diverse as people’s interests. Tree groves will be shady areas to read, play or picnic. The great lawns can be used for free play by a single child or as places for a grand concert or large civic events. Distinctive fountains and water features will invite relaxation, reflection or easy conversation. Giant family-size porch swings will be shaded by an undulating trellis structure which will gently sway with the movement of the swings. The curving trellis also echoes the flow of water. The swings will provide front row seats to the ever-changing sights and luminous energy of the Ohio River and may become one of the most popular of the park’s many features.”

Varoujan Hagopian, PE, FASCE, CSI / Principal / Civil-Waterfront Engineer

“The forty-five acres of land that will become Smale Riverfront Park is likely Cincinnati’s most significant opportunity for economic and physical growth. Waterfront projects like this one—while holding tremendous possibilities—can be challenging. Sites like this present a unique and complex set of physical characteristics, historic and cultural considerations, environmental issues, and regulatory constraints that impact the development and design process. Our goal for this project is to create a dynamic new public environment that will invite people to the water’s edge, forge new connections, and stimulate private investment by capturing the real estate value of this location.”


Sasaki’s landscape architecture practice is integrated with civil engineering and urban design to create new designs on diverse and challenging sites, including urban waterfronts—like Smale Riverfront Park.

Sasaki’s extensive portfolio includes many outstanding waterfront projects.

Charleston Waterfront Park

Charleston, South Carolina

For this project, Sasaki took a neglected river property and transformed it—reconnecting it to the river with astounding results. Sasaki provided urban design, landscape architectural, and civil engineering services for the master plan and park. Steady residential growth resulted from the building of the park and the desired residential infill is now complete.

The master plan for the Charleston Peninsula provided the framework for public and private development with the goal of bringing new life to the waterfront and providing a safe, attractive environment that would invite residents, visitors, shoppers, and business people to the historic downtown. Sasaki's subsequent design for the seven-acre Waterfront Park transformed the underutilized Cooper riverfront into a long curving expanse of green that includes a 1,200 foot promenade along the water's edge, recreational piers, shade structures, participatory fountains, lawns and seating walls, and quiet gardens under a grove of live oaks.

Central Indianapolis Waterfront Master Plan

Indianapolis, Indiana

The Indianapolis Waterfront Master Plan exemplifies an important goal: to go beyond the practical provision of a recreational environment and create a landscape that satisfies the community’s deep desire for a tangible sense of place unique to the particular cultural, historic and topographic circumstances of a site.

This plan envisions new open space links between the downtown and the river. These new public spaces create the opportunities for adjacent civic, institutional, sports and residential developments on individual riverfront and canal sites.

Central Indianapolis Waterfront Capital City Landing
The first implemented phase of the Indianapolis Waterfront Master Plan is Capital City Landing, the principal park link between the downtown civic and commercial core and the river. The principal organizing elements are the extension of the Central Canal through the park and the National Road Promenade that follows the alignment of the first road from the downtown to the White River. The centerpiece of the park is Celebration Plaza. This green room is oriented to the river via a grass and stone amphitheatre that breaks through the existing floodwall. This new landscape supports developments on sites adjacent to and in the park such as an Imax theatre, the State of Indiana Museum, the NCAA Headquarters, a minor league baseball park and additions to the Indianapolis Zoo.

Central Indianapolis Waterfront The Upper Canal
Sasaki extended the Central Canal northward by three city blocks and created a northern landscape terminus to this pedestrian recreation corridor. A fountain that incorporates historic canal control gates falls into the canal basin and dominates this water landscape. Tree shaded, sloping banks and a grass and stone amphitheatre surround the basin. Tree lined pedestrian walks line the canal on both banks and create a landscape setting for the adjacent residential, commercial and institutional development that is being built on both banks and around the edges of the north basin landscape.

New London Waterfront Park

New London, Connecticut

New London
The New London Waterfront Park is the civic open space interface between the city and the Thames River. Public access to the New London waterfront was constrained for many years by active water dependent uses and the railroad corridor that formed a nearly continuous barrier between the city and the river edge. The park weaves public access through and between active water dependent and transit uses and connects the geographic resource of the river with the downtown. The park is the civic stage for the public life of the community set against the natural asset of the river. It is composed of three public recreation piers and a harbor plaza linked by a half-mile long waterfront promenade.

The park is piece of open space infrastructure. It renews the relationship between the commerce of downtown and the transit and recreation activities of the riverfront, thus supporting the urban revitalization goals of the city.

Sasaki provided planning, landscape architecture, civil engineering, and architectural services for the project. Initial planning studies were undertaken in 1997 and construction has been completed in phases between 1998 and 2002.

Boston Waterfront Park & Long Wharf

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston’s historic Waterfront Park is located in an area formerly devoted to mercantile and shipping activities. The site was cleared to complete the open space and pedestrian link from Boston’s Government Center complex via the historic Quincy Market area to the waterfront.

Sasaki’s program for the park recognizes both regional and national visitation and the local recreational needs of the North End and waterfront communities. The design accommodates the passive recreational needs of adults and children in a series of small pedestrian-scale spaces. The major focal point of the design is a plaza surrounded by terraced lawn areas oriented to the harbor. The park is designed to accommodate spontaneous festival and vendor-related activities.

Sasaki Associates provided complete landscape architectural and civil engineering services, working with the City's Redevelopment Authority and Department of Parks and Recreation and with community groups from the formulation of initial concepts to preparation of contract documents and construction administration.

Sasaki also provided landscape architectural, urban design, civil engineering, and environmental permitting services for the restoration of historic Long Wharf, which returns the most dramatic portion of the severely deteriorated wharf to public use. The central upper wharf is an open promenade, highlighted by a large compass rose that provides navigational information. Details enhance the historic importance of the wharf and create a “wharfscape” with materials able to withstand the battering of the sea.