University of Florida Innovation Square Vision Plan
University of Florida’s Innovation Square is a story of how the first “innovation district” in the United States found its way to Gainesville. It starts with a decommissioned hospital that divided a district and an unlikely group of stakeholders who united to find an ideal solution for their home city.
When looking at the twelve underutilized streets involved in the project, we helped The University of Florida and the City of Gainesville take a few steps back. So far back in fact, they saw Saudi Arabia and something there called “innovation districts.” Sold on the concept, they embraced the idea that the twelve streets would form a new square to serve the entire community and, they hoped, new business opportunities.
Today, the walkable, high-density district is attracting researchers, students, and start-ups. Sustainable, mixed-use, and pedestrian friendly, the area connects the community to each other, and, happily, new business.
Taking the pressure off the area’s stressed out storm water infrastructure fell to the 9th Street Streetscape.
A bioretention area, it handles the excess water within a sweeping walkway filled with hundreds of thousands of native flowers and highlighted by live oak plantings.
Part horticulture picture book, part sustainability study, the roots of the plants filter and clean the storm water. As an added benefit, they slow the flow of the water to further reduce the negative impact downstream.
Anthony Lyons, City Manager, City of Gainesville