Gathering Place, 2019 ULI Global Awards for Excellence Winner

© Alex Maclean

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Developers: George Kaiser Family Foundation; Tulsa Gathering Place; River Parks Authority
Designers: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates; Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects
Site Size: 66.5 acres (26.9 ha)

Jury Statement: The Gathering Place is a world class, mission-driven riverfront park of impressive scale and variety that embodies a true central public space bringing the four corners of Tulsa together to enjoy free educational, recreational and cultural programming.

Gathering Place is a new park covering 66.5 acres (26.9 ha) on Tulsa’s waterfront along the Arkansas River. It is the largest public park created with private funds, funded by $400 million from the George Kaiser Family Foundation through a public/private partnership with the city of Tulsa. The park incorporates the natural landscape into its design, using the river as a central feature and incorporating natural topographies with human-made ones.

Gathering Place Site Plan © MVVA
Adventure Playground is one of over 100 attractions at Gathering Place. © Barrett Doherty








Gathering Place features more than 100 unique attractions to keep visitors engaged and to encourage return visits. The design of the park maintained as many existing trees as possible while planting 5,800 new ones, along with eight acres (3.2 ha) of meadow, mimicking the native flora and providing habitats for native species. In addition to cultivating native landscapes, geothermal wells heat and cool all buildings, all the park’s lighting is LED, and the park connects to bike trails around the city. The park strives to connect a segregated community, bringing together peoples of all ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds through a variety of programming.

Landscaping with native plants has restored habitats for other native species. © Elizabeth Felicella
Gathering Place has become a popular spot for recreation for all ages. © Elizabeth Felicella








Gathering Place was designed with input from a diverse community throughout the process, to fulfill a longstanding need for a place where everyone can feel welcome to gather and interact. Within its first five months, the park surpassed its goal of serving 1 million visitors in its first year. This popularity even during the fall and winter months speaks to the strong sense of ownership that the citizens of Tulsa feel for this park. With the endowment set up by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Gathering Place will be a place for all Tulsans to come together for generations.


Press about Gathering Place

3:05: Gathering Place’s successful first year – Jeff Stava – TulsaPeople – 10/02/19

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