Panorama Park Renovation

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Project Features

Please refer to the project narrative, which outlines the design’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Southeast Colorado Springs is home to 70,000 residents, representing diverse cultures, abilities, incomes, and religions.  A partnership between the client and a non-profit mobilized around the idea that Panorama Park can be a catalyst for renewed economic vitality and cultural expression in the underrepresented Southeast neighborhood.  The landscape architect led the design of the park’s $8M renovation, which has created a place where the community comes together: featuring a central plaza with interactive water feature, an event lawn for performances, a universally accessible play area, a youth-focused area, athletic fields, and a bike challenge course designed to be fully integrated into the site’s drainage and detention system – all to get people moving and connect to nature.

Once a neglected, unsafe space, Panorama Park today is revitalized and is the result of a fully engaged community that ‘came to the table’ to design a park that meets the recreational needs of the residents and has become a symbol of equity and inclusion in the revitalized, empowered Southeast.


Panorama Park / Seed of an Idea

Southeast Colorado Springs is a multi-cultural community that is home to 16 percent of the city’s population. In a demographic study of the city, a major non-profit organization found that Southeast lacks the same connections to nature as the rest of the city, with higher temperatures due to heat island effect and a lack of access to safe outdoor green spaces. The non-profit partnered with the city to find ways to address these disparities through increasing access to open space.  They started a dialogue with the local advocacy group RISE Southeast in order to discover their vision for what access to park and open space could look like in their neighborhood.  Through that discovery process, Panorama Park was identified as an opportunity site for renovation because it is a large park that is seldom used and lacks amenities and shade.

Mission-Driven Partnership & Engagement

With Panorama Park identified, the city and the nonprofit (‘client group’) co-led a competitive consultant selection process. The landscape architects were awarded the project and commissioned to lead all design aspects including plan layout, grading, special detail development, play structure concepts, and planting. In addition to managing a multi-disciplinary team of consultants, the primary services included comprehensive stakeholder engagement; master planning, construction document preparation, and bidding and construction implementation services.  The client group, landscape architects and the leader of RISE Southeast formed a unique mission-driven partnership, working as co-leaders in all phases of the park’s planning and design phases.

The engagement strategy for Panorama Park was based on the belief that if you bring to the table the community organizations that are already having direct and meaningful impact in Southeast, you can harness the unique talents of each partner organization to generate trust and excitement, and ultimately create a park that represents Southeast’s cultural diversity.  The strategy included four different components: youth outreach, surveys, workshops and special events.  Perhaps the most notable engagement method was the on-site event series ‘Meet Me in the Park!’ where residents could envision the space and what its revitalization could mean for their families.

Project Goals

From the community feedback, the following project goals were defined and became the guiding principles for the design and implementation phases:

  • Community Has a Voice. The community shall be a part of the design process to ensure the end result will match the original vision and instill a sense of ownership and pride among residents.
  • Access for All. The park’s design shall consider the wide spectrum of human abilities and strive to meet the needs of the greatest number of people possible.
  • Climate-Smart Integrated Design. Integrating green infrastructure shall be a central part of the design approach, as will addressing the lack of shade, replacing turfgrass with water-efficient native grasses, and effectively managing stormwater.

Panorama Park Delivers on the Promises to Southeast

Opened to the public in August 2022, Panorama Park today is a vibrant, active park and the new heart of Southeast.  Residents enjoy amenities that were prioritized through direct input from an active community base, represent the culture of the residents, and were funded through a commitment by the client group to address equity.  Using the initial project goals as a measure, the park has had overwhelmingly positive impacts.

  • Event Lawn and Pavilion: Residents expressed a desire for the park to be place where the community comes together, which occurs at the event lawn, where regularly activated events are offered and organized by the client and non-profits.
  • Central Plaza and Water Feature: In the engagement process, an interactive water feature was identified as a highly desired amenity to help residents stay cool in the summer months. Through extensive grant funding, the water feature remained in the plan and is a central feature in the park. The plaza also includes a series of planters and custom bench seating, as well as a sloped turf area near the water for families to relax and watch under shade canopies.  Shade and seating were important amenities desired by the public in the park: to provide shade while trees grow, shade sails and umbrellas have been strategically placed in high-use areas. The design team worked with the community to determine the color palette, which is evident in the plaza paving pattern, as a way of reflecting Southeast.
  • Youth Area. Youth were identified early on as a key segment of the population to engage so that the park could be a place for kids to be active, learn new skills and focus their energy on positive experiences.  To that end, the Youth Advisory Council, made up of 12 members of RISE Southeast, collaborated with the landscape architects to design a youth-focused space which includes a skate area, hammock garden, and a climbing boulder.
  • Adventure Trail & Overlook. To take full advantage of the panoramic views of Pikes Peak, a high point is situated on the park’s west side and features a soft-surface trail up to the top. The Adventure Trail is part of a site-wide system of walking trails and loops designed to offer a variety of experiences for all ability levels.
  • Universally Accessible Play Area. The play area design considers the wide spectrum of human abilities and strives to meet the needs of all. Play features include an embankment slide with a boulder scramble (and accessible path to the top), an at-grade merry-go-round spinning feature and colorful play mounds, as well as more secluded play areas for those with sensory needs.

Multi-Benefit Green Infrastructure

In addition to achieving the other climate-smart initiatives of increasing tree canopy and reducing water use with native vegetation and artificial turf, the landscape architects and engineers designed a holistic and innovative approach to managing stormwater to improve water quality.  The design concentrates the programming and recreation in the center of the park, allowing the site’s perimeter to be utilized as vegetated buffer.  With all of the parking and amenity areas, 30% of the site is impervious.  The design team responded to the need to provide water quality treatment and detention by designing a park that fully integrates stormwater management to provide value beyond basic stormwater conveyance, treatment, and detention. Rather than directing runoff directly into gutters that concentrate flows into pipes with no possibility for infiltration, the site grading allows for small, localized pre-treatment depression areas – such as the planters in the plaza and the infiltration islands in the parking lot – that are connected by bio-swales, to infiltrate and filter stormwater, disconnect impervious areas, and ultimately reduce runoff.

The bike challenge course presented an exciting opportunity to integrate recreational use and stormwater function. The bike course is graded with a series of mounds and depressions that comprise the stormwater detention area, while at the same time offering great recreational value for mountain bike enthusiasts and novices alike.

The Park Has Changed the City

Through a highly collaborative planning, design and implementation process led by the landscape architect, Panorama Park has become a transformational park project in the city, addressing equity and fulfilling a vision for an underrepresented neighborhood.

The city has received many impactful testimonies since the park’s completion in August 2022. Among them are accolades from parents with disabilities who can now engage with their children on the playground, families with special needs children who now have a welcoming place to safely recreate, and the many nearby residents who are excited and proud to have Panorama Park represent Southeast.

Plant List

Grasses and Perennials

  • Andropogon gerardii – BIG BLUESTEM
  • Artemisia frigida – FRINGED SAGE
  • Artemisia ludoviciana – PRAIRIE SAGE
  • Asclepias tuberosa – BUTTERFLY MILKWEED
  • Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ – BLONDE AMBITION BLUE GRAMA
  • Deschampsia cespitosa – TUFTED HAIRGRASS
  • Echinacea purpurea – PURPLE CONEFLOWER
  • Eriogonum umbellatum – SULFUR FLOWER
  • Lupinus argenteus – SILVERY LUPINE
  • Panicum virgatum – SWITCHGRASS
  • Penstemon strictus – ROCKY MOUNTAIN PENSTEMON
  • Schyzachyrium scoparium – LITTLE BLUESTEM
  • Solidago canadensis – GOLDENROD
  • Sporobolus heterolepis – PRAIRIE DROPSEED


  • Amelanchier canadensis – SHADBLOW SERVICEBERR
  • Amorpha canescens – LEADPLANT
  • Arctostaphylos x coloradensis – MOCK BEARBERRY MANZANITA
  • Arctostaphylos x coloradensis ‘Panchito’ – PANCHITO MANZANITA
  • Artemisia tridentata – WESTERN SAGE
  • Ericameria nauseosa spp. Nauseosa – DWARF BLUE RABBITBRUSH
  • Prunus besseyi ‘Pawnee Buttes – ‘CREEPING WESTERN SANDCHERRY
  • Quercus gambelii – GAMBEL OAK
  • Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Lo’ – GRO-LO SUMAC
  • Rhus trilobata – THREE-LEAF SUMAC
  • Ribes aureum – GOLDEN CURRANT
  • Rosa woodsia – WOOD’S ROSE
  • Symphoricarpos occidentalis – SNOWBERRY
  • Yucca glauca – PLAINS YUCCA

Large Deciduous Trees

  • Acer grandidentatum ‘Highland Park’ – HIGHLAND PARK MAPLE
  • Acer grandidentatum ‘Rocky Mountain Glow’ – ROCKY MOUNTAIN GLOW MAPLE
  • Celtis occidentalis – WESTERN HACKBERRY
  • Gleditsia triacanthos inermis ‘Shademaster’ – SHADEMASTER HONEYLOCUST
  • Populus angustifolia – NARROWLEAF COTTONWOOD
  • Populus deltoides ssp. Monilifera – PLAINS COTTONWOOD
  • Quercus bicolor – SWAMP WHITE OAK
  • Quercus macrocarpa – BUR OAK
  • Quercus shummardi – SHUMMARD OAK
  • Tilia americana ‘Redmond’ – REDMOND LINDEN
  • Tilia tomentosa – SILVERLEAF LINDEN


Ornamental Deciduous Trees

  • Acer ginnala – AMUR MAPLE
  • Acer ginnala ‘Flame’ – GINNALA FLAME MAPLE
  • Acer platanoides ‘Crimson Sentry’ – CRIMSON SENTRY MAPLE
  • Acer rubrum ‘JFS-KW78’ PP25301 – ARMSTRONG GOLD MAPLE
  • Acer tataricum – TATARIAN MAPLE
  • Alnus incana tenuifolia – THINLEAF ALDER
  • Malus x ‘Radiant’ – RADIANT CRABAPPLE

Evergreen Trees

  • Juniperus scopulorum – ROCKY MOUNTAIN JUNIPER
  • Pinus edulis – PINON PINE
  • Pinus ponderosa – PONDEROSA PINE

Seed Mix (Stormwater Basin)

  • Andropogon gerardii – BIG BLUESTEM
  • Bouteloua curtipendula ‘Butte’ – SIDEOATS GRAMA
  • Bouteloua gracilis ‘Lovington’ – BLUE GRAMA
  • Calamovilfa longifolia – PRAIRIE SANDREED
  • Distichlis spicata – INLAND SALTGRASS
  • Eleocharis palustris – CREEPING SPIKERUSH
  • Elymus trachycaulus ssp.trachycaulus ‘San Luis’ – SLENDER WHEATGRASS
  • Glyceria striataFOWL – MANNAGRASS
  • Nassella viridula ‘Lodorm’ – GREEN NEEDLEGRASS
  • Pascopyrum smithii ‘Arriba – WESTERN WHEATGRASS
  • Panicum virgatum ‘Blackwell’ – SWITCHGRASS
  • Sorghastrum nutans – YELLOW INDIANGRASS

Seed Mix (Swale)

  • Carex pellita – WOOLY SEDGE
  • Distichlis spicata – INLAND SALTGRASS
  • Elymus canadensis ‘Mandan’ – CANADA WILDRYE
  • Elymus lanceolatus ssp. lanceolatus ‘Critana’ – THICKSPIKE WHEATGRASS
  • Elymus trachycaulus ssp. trachycaulus ‘San Luis’ – SLENDER WHEATGRASS
  • Juncus torreyi – TORREY’S RUSH
  • Panicum virgatum ‘Blackwell’ – SWITCHGRASS
  • Pascopyrum smithii ‘Arriba’ – WESTERN WHEATGRASS
  • Poa palustris – FOWL BLUEGRASS
  • Spartina pectinata – PRAIRIE CORDGRAS
  • Sporobolus airoides – ALKALI SACATON

Seed Mix (Native Upland)

  • Bouteloua curtipendula ‘Butte’ – SIDEOATS GRAMA
  • Bouteloua gracilis ‘Lovington’ – BLUE GRAMA
  • Buchloe dactyloides ‘Top Gun’ – BUFFALOGRASS
  • Elymus trachycaulus ssp.trachycaulus ‘San Luis’ – SLENDER WHEATGRASS
  • Koeleria macrantha – PRAIRIE JUNEGRASS
  • Muhlenbergia pungens – SANDHILL MUHLY
  • Pascopyrum smithii ‘Arriba’ – WESTERN WHEATGRASS
  • Poa secunda ‘Sherman’ – BIG BLUEGRASS
  • Schizachyrium scoparium – LITTLE BLUESTEM
  • Sporobolus airoides – ALKALI SACATON
  • Sprorobolus cryptandrus – SAND DROPSEED
  • Stipa comata – NEEDLE AND THREAD

Seed Mix (Cool Season Native Upland Seed Mix)

  • Bouteloua curtipendula ‘Butte’ – SIDEOATS GRAMA
  • Elymus lanceolatus ssp. lanceolatus ‘Critana’ – THICKSPIKE WHEATGRASS
  • Elymus trachycaulus ssp.trachycaulus ‘San Luis’ – SLENDER WHEATGRASS
  • Festuca saximontana – ROCKY MOUNTAIN FESCUE
  • Pascopyrum smithii ‘Arriba’ – WESTERN WHEATGRASS
  • Pseudoroegneria spicata – BLUEBUNCH WHEATGRASS

Documents and Media

Planning Docs (if applicable):