For nearly 20 years, the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) has concentrated on creating opportunities for disadvantaged children and families in Tulsa, Oklahoma by supporting early childhood education, efforts to prevent teen pregnancy, and a host of other social services.
GKFF aims to create a civic culture that supports equal opportunity for all children, to help revitalize Tulsa’s economic health. GKFF creates unique public spaces that attract visitors and promote a feeling of inclusiveness in the city. The Foundation also supports programs that assemble the best and brightest minds in Tulsa to work on innovative solutions to address community challenges.
Spearheading the revitalization of downtown Tulsa’s Brady Arts District neighborhood with apartments and the Guthrie Green performance plaza near the Woody Guthrie Center stands out among GKFF’s successful past endeavors.
But it could be argued that a park known as A Gathering Place for Tulsa under construction along the eastern bank of the Arkansas River two miles (3.2 km) south of downtown is not only GKFF’s most ambitious development effort in the city, but also one of the biggest greenway projects under development from scratch in the United States.
After spending almost a decade assembling about 100 acres (40 ha), mapping out a blueprint with celebrated landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), and soliciting community feedback, GKFF and civic leaders two years ago broke ground on the first phase of the Gathering Place.
A new 45,000-square-foot (4,200 sq m) Tulsa Children’s Museum Discovery Lab will anchor the second phase on the park’s southern end.
A third phase farther in the future is projected to connect the park to Tulsa’s shopping and entertainment Brookside District and could include commercial development.
Image credit: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates