Open Space Innovation: Past, Present, and Future

For cities like Louisville, the future of greenways is rooted in traditional open space planning.

greenways, parks, trails, development patterns, green infrastructure, open space planning, louisville, kentucky


Kelly Ream


Marguerite Anglin


Brittany Coyle

Louisville’s knowledge of the benefits of greenways has resulted in a community that embraces ambitious new open space initiatives, including the 100-mile Louisville Loop and Floyds Fork Greenway. The city’s experience with greenways is rooted in Frederick Law Olmsted’s open space plan for Louisville, envisioned in the late 1890s. Olmsted proposed a ring of parklands and parkways extending to (what were then) Louisville’s outer extents.

Olmsted recognized the integrative potential of open space and created a holistic open space plan incorporating transportation, development, recreation, and natural resources.


As the city grew and implemented portions of Olmsted’s plan, his open space framework became core to Louisville and established a standard for incorporating “nature into neighborhoods.”

Over a hundred years later, Louisville is undertaking another holistic open space project, the Floyds Fork Greenway master plan and landscape design. In leading the project, WRT builds upon Louisville’s tradition of open space design to create a 3200-acre greenway addressing the city’s eastward expansion and increased recreational needs. Comprised of trails, parklands, and preserves, the greenway will also preserve habitat, enhance biodiversity, improve water quality, and preserve agricultural land through sustainable design strategies.

Louisville is not alone. Other US cities, counties, and states are also implementing greenways. The tangible, quantifiable benefits will likely secure their role in the future of open space planning and hopefully spark innovative approaches to incorporating and designing them.