Sasaki Associates, with RDG Planning & Design and Applied Ecological Services (AES), were recently announced as the winning team of the Water Works Parkitecture Competition. The international design competition entailed the creation of a conceptual plan for Water Works Park to form dynamic relationships between the river, the watershed, and the community. Education and the connection between the river and the community were highly stressed in Sasaki’s winning proposal. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Water, wild + wonder imagines a dynamic public park that respects and discovers the power of water in the Des Moines region. We imagine Water Works Park as a place of adventure and water experience that serves as entrée to a restored, easily accessible wilderness and beyond – to a river system, a watershed, and a new understanding of the role of everybody in the region’s water story. The Park creates a re-imagined public space on the Raccoon River, where the dynamic floodplain, the engineered water systems, ecology and active recreation come together.
Our proposal explores four key ideas:
- Building a resilient, floodplain park
- Creating a park expressive of the site’s working water systems
- Encouraging ecological health and sparking stewardship throughout the Raccoon River watershed – Integrating innovative programs that encourage expanded visitation and learning.
There are two essential characters of the existing Water Works site which our proposal will amplify. We describe these as the wild and the engineered.
The wild is nearly 1,200 acres of Raccoon River floodplain. Accessible and dotted with changing adventure programs, the wild is a place for restored habitat and urban escape. It is a landscape of nature and wonder, experienced on a vast scale of dynamic, looped, and serpentine walking, hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.
The engineered is the working landscape of the Water Works Plant. This terrain is devoted to the production of drinking water for the City. Tracing the site’s impressive gallery, the Engineered landscape hosts the high-intensity urban park program while also interpreting layers of water-related issues and infrastructure. The centerpiece of the Engineered landscape is the Circuit; a water- based recreational and educational journey that explores, interprets, and cleans water.
The Water Circuit, as engineered infrastructure, provides an understanding of five water-related systems: quality and quantity of drinking water, recreation and interpretation, land use, and flood dynamics. The Water Circuit connects the existing series of basins and ponds into one unified system; improves yield of clean water into the gallery; and creates a water trail along the public river frontage of Water Works Park.
Recreationally, the Circuit provides a unique water adventure – more intimate than the lake scene common to Greenway parks, and more stable than the Raccoon River itself – to be experienced by ironically-branded Water Works standing paddleboards or other self-powered craft. Surfing on the Circuit, the visitor discovers a series of interpretive events, including demonstrations of best management practices in different land use types and the dynamics of flooding.
Architects: Sasaki Associates
Location: Des Moines, Iowa, United States
Team: Gina Ford, Lead Designer; Steve Hamwey, Managing Partner; Alexis Canter, Shannon Lee
Consultants: RDG and AES
Client: Des Moines Water Works
Size: 1200 acres