Sasaki Architects has been announced as the winner of the Parkitecture competition to redesign Water Works Park in Des Moines, Iowa. The winning designs straddle the engineered and the natural while connecting the community to its watershed with a new activity and education center.
Sasaki collaborated with Des Moines-based RDG Planning & Design and Minneapolis-based Applied Ecological Services on the competition entry. That partnership will continue through implementation. Next, the design team and Des Moines Water Works will begin a concept validation process. The vision plan will require private fundraising for implementation in the hopes of avoiding extra costs for water rate payers.
The competition, launched in June 2011, accepted 44 proposals and selected 5 finalists for further review and public comment. According to a Bustler post announcing Sasaki as the winning designer: “The competition sought proposals to integrate the ecological and social function of a park and river into a unified landscape; to inspire the community and to generate discussion about watershed issues/best practices; and offer innovative design solutions to address ecological and recreational challenges specific to Water Works Park.”
The Racoon River cuts across the 1,500-acre park, which also includes 3-mile-long infiltration gallery that provides Des Moines a major source of drinking water.
Sasaki’s winning creates two distinct sections of the park–the wild and the engineered–using the River as a natural boundary. The wild section offers horseback riding, hiking, and exploration in the park’s natural environment. The centerpiece of the engineered landscape is a recreational watercourse that links to interpretive programming about harvesting and cleaning drinking water. The engineered landscape also connects to city streets, literally connecting the role of water into the fabric of the Midwest urban environment.