In Orlando, Florida, The Canopy by AECOM is set to merge technology and nature in the footings of an interstate underpass

In Orlando, Florida, a city known for bringing other worlds and fantasies to life with its myriad amusement parks, an ambitious project is set to transform a vacant space beneath Interstate 4 (I-4) into an “urban oasis.” This week, the City of Orlando revealed the final design and renderings for a forthcoming urban gathering space project, dubbed The Canopy.

The long urban park is set to break ground in early 2025. It will span four city blocks that run below the recently rebuilt interstate highway bridges, whose taller and wider structures left a 10-acre space absolutely ripe for transformation, per ClickOrlando. The Canopy, previously referred to as the Under-I Project, will take over the space beneath the I-4, between West Church Street and West Washington Avenue, bringing the natural landscapes of Florida into an urban setting. The lead design team behind the project is the design and infrastructure consulting giant AECOM.

Technology and nature will intertwine in The Canopy. (Courtesy City of Orlando)

The Canopy draws “inspiration from Orlando’s beautiful canopy of trees to create a vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable urban oasis that reflects the spirit of downtown Orlando, connects its diverse neighborhoods, and fosters a sense of belonging for all,” the City of Orlando said in a project statement.

The renderings reveal unconventional tree-like artworks in an environment that is wholly influenced by foliage and the tropical setting of the region. The color green is the focal point. Large screens fixed the wall of the urban park space juxtapose technology with nature. These screens will be used for anticipated festival and event programming hosted beneath the hulking concrete highway infrastructure. Accompanying the modern artworks, natural greenery envelopes the artworks, and lines the pathways for visitors. Seating areas are also on view, welcoming visitors to stay and gather at the venue. The Canopy is set to house spaces for vendors, festivals, and stage shows.

Rendering of a tree-like sculpture in a highway underpass with greenery surrounding it.
Seating spaces and more will welcome visitors to the urban landscape. (Courtesy City of Orlando)

AECOM’s design incorporated feedback from the community gathered through an online survey and public meetings in 2023. The project’s design focuses on connection, safety, community, greenery, mobility, and artistic immersion—six core principles identified from the community’s feedback. Once the project breaks ground, it is expected to take 24 months to complete.

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