Civitas’ Design for Revitalization of Finlay Park Moves Forward

Press Release

finlay park overhead view

Beginning in January 2022, Civitas and Stantec will restore Columbia’s ‘crown jewel’ to its former glory

Columbia, South Carolina — February 7, 2022 — The international award-winning planning, design, and engineering firm Stantec, teamed with landscape architecture firm Civitas, have received the City Council’s approval to move forward with the design of implementation plans for Finlay Park and revitalize Columbia’s largest public park.

“It’s sustainable and responsible to build on the investment that’s already within Finlay Park. We plan to enrich it and bring it up to contemporary programs in alignment with a 2019 Master Plan developed by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation,” says Civitas founder and president Mark Johnson. The 18.5-acre park was once considered the crown jewel of the city’s parks system and included vast green spaces, stages, and a cascading waterfall fed by a trademark spiral fountain. The park, which opened in its current form in the 70s, was a centerpiece for city recreation, events, and family gatherings.

Over the years, Finlay has been steadily declining due to structural failures in walls, non-compliance with building codes, overgrown root structures, and its lack of accessibility. The new design will improve circulation, engage users through diverse, interconnected spaces and increase accessibility, safety, and visibility.

finlay park skyline

“The new design of Finlay Park respects the original goals and objectives of revered southern landscape architect Robert Marvin while improving accessibility to all amenities and addressing safety concerns that currently exist in the park. The new Finlay Park will provide better links to each destination, creating a park-in-motion for the community. These design moves will result in a renewed daily interest for outdoor leisure, exercise, and connecting with this charming southern landscape,” says Heath Mizer, landscape architect and urban designer at Civitas. Proposed improvements include a new events stage, new restrooms, a recreated pond, improved walking paths, and an updated playground. There will also be a renovation of the park’s iconic spiral fountain.

people enjoying finlay park

The city intends to break ground by early 2023, with renovations completed in 2024. The total cost to renovate the park is estimated at $18 million.

For interviews, images, and additional information, please contact Katie Breest of Agency PR at

About Civitas

Founded in 1984 with the core purpose of “creating healthier cities,” Civitas is an idea-based practice of urban designers, architects, and landscape architects engaged in strategic planning for urban change and project design for built works. Curbed has recognized Civitas as one of five practitioners “who are putting the public back in public space.” Fast Company has acknowledged Civitas in its Innovation by Design Awards, the Canadian Institute of Planners “Great Public Space,” and an Excellence on the Waterfront Award from the nonprofit Waterfront Center. A consultancy and a design studio, Civitas advises on a wide range of strategies for re-imagining urban life and places, working in U.S. cities coast to coast and around the world.