Panama Pacifico is pioneering true urbanism at a city and regional scale in Panama. The project was launched several years ago and has been an unprecedented financial success. London and Regional’s development efforts at Panama Pacifico have established a core business center with over 170 multi-national companies which employ over 7000 people in over two million square feet of on-site work space.
To complement this financial success, Canin Associates has been engaged to develop enhanced placemaking strategies for the next phase of development in the community’s Town Center. “One of our prime tasks is crafting a plan for the heart of this new city,” says Brian Canin, who views this as a complex intervention involving redevelopment, adaptive reuse, and repositioning much of the existing infrastructure inherited from the old military base.
To do this, we assembled a diverse team from our urban planning, architecture, and landscape architecture studios, and traveled to Central America to lead an in-depth charette. Focusing on the site’s natural assets as our inspiration, we identified powerful placemaking opportunities by designing a series of urban plazas and connecting them to the Grand Park, the centerpiece of Panama Pacifico.
The opportunity to create an iconic, 14-acre public park amenity in the middle of this new city benefits the community in two ways. First, it improves property values. Contrary to what we often find in the United States and other countries, urban residents in Panama value the proximity to quality public parks as much or more than a view of the ocean. The second piece of the community-building puzzle that the Grand Park brings to the table is its direct connection to nature. Through public parks, conservation areas, and a Master Trail System, Panama Pacifico is able to create an intimate connection to the natural scenery that surrounds the site.
In addition to its direct link to nature, Panama Pacifico will soon see a more literal connection to the region: lightrail. With a new rail line planned to extend westward of Panama City, the project sits in an ideal location to be directly connected to the region with state-of-art transit. Another connection to the region will be, of course, major roads. While the existing street network provides an adaptable framework for future development, clever interventions in both wayfinding and landscaping will transform current arterials into welcoming boulevards.
With a Town Center and strong outward connections, placemaking in Panama Pacifico will continue to create an important urban node in the economic development of Panama.