Civic Center Campus with John Meade Park / Alan Hutto Commons

Summary

The Civic Center Campus with John Meade Park / Alan Hutto Commons is the heart of the City of Cherry Hills Village. This previously dilapidated site has been transformed into the community’s central gathering space for business, city administration, outdoor recreation, and special events. The campus design celebrates the rural character of the community and its goals of promoting a healthy active lifestyle centered in nature. Natural play spaces, fishing piers, picnic spots, and equestrian and pedestrian trails connect residents to nature. Alan Hutto Commons sculpted amphitheater and lawn and the park’s central shelter bring residents together. It is now a true gathering place, something the city had not had before. The park and campus are within the redesigned Greenwood Gulch that now effectively manages low water flows and regional floodwaters within an ecologically diverse wetland attracting blue herons, snow egrets and mergansers amongst other bird and wildlife species. On-site stormwater improvements filter parking, street and building stormwater through a system of infiltration basins to improve water quality before drainage enters Greenwood Gulch.

Narrative

 

Purpose and Approach

The Civic Center Campus with John Meade Park / Alan Hutto Commons is the heart of the City of Cherry Hills Village. The primary client objective for the park and civic campus was to create an active community park and meeting place to offer recreational activities, host outdoor organized events, and be the hub of the city’s administration and public face. Equally important was creating an ecological and sustainable environment and rebuilding Greenwood Gulch into a city asset. Facilities were designed as ‘green-infrastructure’ for long-term resiliency, and to celebrate the community’s rural character and focus on engaging with nature.

This previously dilapidated site has been transformed into the community’s central gathering space for business, city administration, outdoor recreation, and special events. The campus design celebrates the rural character of the community and its goals of promoting a healthy active lifestyle grounded in nature. Natural play spaces, fishing piers, picnic spots, and equestrian and pedestrian trails connect residents to natural environment. Alan Hutto Commons’ sculpted amphitheater and lawn and the park’s central shelter bring residents together. It is now a true gathering place, something the city had not had before.

Role

As prime consultant for the park and open space, and as consultant to the architect for the building, the landscape architect led site, landscape, and park design for the entire campus. The landscape architect’s specialized team including engineers and ecologists all worked closely with the city’s staff, community, city council, and parks, trails, and recreation commission to develop a park and campus design that engages the community, accommodates city functions, and holistically addresses environmental, user, operational, programmatic and economic requirements.

Context

The 14-acre park and civic campus is located on the city’s most visible corner and set within the regional floodway and floodplain of Greenwood Gulch, a tributary to Cherry Creek. The campus is the center of activity for the community with city services including administration, police and fire, and the city’s primary park and open space all on one site. The campus is connected to the city by pedestrian, bicycle and equestrian trails allowing many residents to walk, bike and ride horses to the site that includes an outdoor equestrian arena.

Special Factors

Prior to the project, the site housed cramped and dilapidated city functions, had a degraded stream and little community use. The transformation of the park and campus design now provides a central gathering place for the community for recreational and outdoor pursuits, defines a campus of city functions, and integrates Greenwood Gulch as an ecologically sustainable environment.

At the heart of John Meade Park is the central shelter and sloping lawn, designed as the communities’ ‘front porch’ for public gatherings, rentals, special events and everyday use. An engaging play space encourages adventure and movement with a tree house, natural climbing logs and boulders, swings, and hammocks.

A boardwalk carves through the center of the ecologically rich wetlands and riparian area as a promenade walkway actively immersing residents into its biodiverse ecosystem. The stream play offers an accessible and safe spot to engage with the stream’s low flow waters and a net suspended over the wetlands give kids the opportunity to interact and learn more about this important landscape. Natural accessible play to the water’s edge has increased useable space within the park and engaged residents with nature.

The redesign of the site into the park and civic campus has regional value. A major flood event on Greenwood Gulch in 2015 inundated the site causing damage and threatening public safety and creating the need for rebuilding. The repair of Greenwood Gulch, a regional floodplain, is a model for integrating new public facilities within a managed floodplain designed as an ecologically diverse ecosystem where facilities are now safely out of the floodplain. Daily and large storm events are accommodated, and an array of recreational experiences are integrated.

Accommodating the proposed program and bringing non-compliant structures out of the 100-year floodplain, required demolition of two buildings, a complete redesign of the floodway, wetlands, and park, and relocation of city maintenance facilities off-site. A threatened and endangered species assessment (USFWS), an Expanded Use and Floodplain Development permit, FEMA CLOMR/LOMR applications, and 404 permitting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were conducted as environmental compliance for the project.

The redesigned floodway is now a dynamic ecosystem of wetlands, riparian areas, and uplands and important bird and wildlife habitat set within a managed floodway. Natural play spaces, fishing piers, picnic spots, and equestrian and pedestrian trails connect residents to nature. Alan Hutto Commons sculpted amphitheater and lawn and the park’s central shelter bring residents together.

Environmental Sensitivity and Sustainability Context

Resiliency and sustainability are core principles for the project, shared by the client, the community and consultant team. The landscape architect’s holistic design approach ensured these were key attributes of the project’s naturalistic aesthetic and integrally designed for optimum function.

The redesign of the regional tributary to Cherry Creek, Greenwood Gulch improves the site but just as importantly creates regional value. Designed as a managed floodplain, grading of the site accomplished a no rise in the floodplain outside of the project site, accomplished through a delicate balance between grading required for floodplain compliance and site layout and design for accessibility and drainage.

Improvements include repair of two ponds, new boulder drop structure for aeration, and a biodiverse wetland planted with species that create habitat complexity and attract diverse birds and wildlife. The Greenwood Gulch improvements were designed to incorporate both ecological functions and aesthetic delight while safely conveying and improving the quality of stormwater flowing in Greenwood Gulch.

Significance

The civic / park campus has created a true gathering place for the City of Cherry Hills Village, something the city had not had before. The Civic Center Campus with John Meade Park / Alan Hutto Commons is now the heart of the community where families play and picnic, residents run, cycle and ride horses, and where special community events are held. Resiliency and sustainability are at the forefront with integrated infiltration of storm water, and the use of hardy and native grasses for open spaces with limited irrigated lawn. The redesign of the regional floodplain through the campus brings an ecologically rich and bio-diverse stream to the city with engaging, safe, and accessible recreational experiences including a stream play node, aeration, and a biodiverse wetland planted with species that create habitat complexity and attract diverse birds and wildlife.

Plant List

Upland Plant Schedule

Douglas Fir
Southwestern White Pine
Austrian Pine
Blue Spruce
Pyramidal European Hornbeam
Eastern Redbud
Common Hackberry
Northern Catalpa
Kentucky Coffee Tree
Skyline Honey Locust
Prairie Rose Crabapple
Spring Snow Crabapple
Narrowleaf Cottonwood
Montmorency Cherry
Texas Red Oak
Bur Oak
Chinkapin Oak
Accolade Elm
Native Chokecherry
Golden Currant
Mountain Snowberry
Wolfberry
Panchito Manzanita
Kinnikinnick
Heavy Metal Switchgrass

Wetland Plant Schedule

Narrowleaf Cottonwood
Peachleaf Willow
Red-Osier Dogwood
Native Chokecherry
Golden Currant
Sandbar Willow
Marsh Milkweed
Lady’s Slipper
Nuttall’s Sunflower
Rocky Mountain Iris
Canada Goldenrod
Broadleaf Arrowhead
Blue Vervian
Northwest Territory Sedge
Tufted Hairgrass
Baltic Rush
Fowl Bluegrass
Indiangrass
Three Square Bulrush
Cloaked Bulrush

Short Grass Seed Mix

Hampton Kentucky Bluegrass
Canada Bluegrass
Sheep Fescue
Buffalograss
Blue Grama

Mid Grass Seed Mix

Blue Grama
Little Bluestem
Needle and Thread
Prairie Junegrass
Indian Ricegrass
Sand Dropseed
Sideoats Grama
Swithchgrass
Western Wheatgrass

Wetland Seed Mix

American Sloughgrass
Nebraska Sedge
Creeping Spikerush
Hardstem Bullrush
Alkali Bullrush
Prairie Cordgrass
Canadian Wildrye
Switchgrass
Western Wheatgrass

Documents and Media

Planning Docs (if applicable):

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