Client: Des Moines Water Works Parkitecture, City of Des Moines
Landscape Architect: Jessica Leete, Julie Lucier, Shanshan Lu, Claire Ji kim
Year Designed: 2011

In order for Des Moines Water Works Park to evolve into an urban park it, must simultaneously merge nature with urban. The park as a flood plain is a critical natural resource, yet the park is currently unsustainable, an overlooked and invisible landscape. In order to take advantage of the extraordinary beauty of this natural system, our design mimics natural processes rather than natural form. We examined the existing infrastructure (such as levees and floodgates) and essential on-site natural structures (such as ox-bow lakes, meander scrolls) that are the systemic results of regular flooding and in response developed a strategy of interventions. The elevation data used in this conceptual urban park design is an estimate as it is compiled from a variety of sources with different datums. Accurate elevation data would allow for hydraulic modelling to test the feasibility of the design and develop a management regime. This strategy of interventions is initiated by establishing a framework within which the natural processes of the site are in continual motion. The design, created by a sequence of operations over time, is dynamic and resilient accommodating the regular disturbance patterns of flood water to offer park users an experience of wonder and awe.