Sasaki set to design a community-focused and resilient neighborhood park in Colorado

In the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado, a 9-acre site is to be transformed into a $20 million neighborhood park, inviting people of all ages and cultures to gather. While still in its initial design stages, multidisciplinary design firm Sasaki is set to lead the project’s landscape architecture, civil engineering, and ecology, to create a community-focused area of play and recreation that is aware and resilient to its natural surroundings.

While 10,000 years ago the land housed the Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and Ute Peoples, it is now home to culturally diverse and historically underserved Nepalese and Hispanic communities. Immediately adjacent to the site is the city’s largest mobile home community Boulder Meadows. Its residents have little access to the site due to the road’s lack of sidewalks. In collaboration with Boulder Parks and Recreation (BPR) and the City of Boulder, the pre-design process involved robust community outreach to encourage and support the representation of the site’s history.

BPR is working closely with local youth and community leaders to elevate and include their ideas into the project’s final designs, including plant selection, artistic features, and cultural symbolism. Middle and high school students in Boulder Meadows have already greatly contributed to the project, coining its working title: Violet Park. The park is envisioned as an interactive adventure playground, with nature exploration areas, serene paths, climbing structures, a small bike track, and a community garden with native and sustainable plants.

Context hydrology diagram for Boulder Colorado
The park’s site in North Boulder lies within a floodplain, leading to increased flood risk. (Courtesy Sasaki)

In addition to addressing the community, the project will also focus on flood mitigation.

While flooding is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Boulder, the city actually has the highest flood risk in Colorado. The park’s site in North Boulder lies within a floodplain and alongside an 11-mile-long waterway, increasing its risk. Aligning with Boulder’s floodplain goals, Sasaki is set to integrate green infrastructure into the design to redirect and absorb stormwater. Instead of relying on hard infrastructure like gutters, Sasaki’s designs will double as mitigation tools and recreational features that provide a vibrant space for visitors and locals to enjoy.

Sasaki has worked in Boulder since the 1970s, with designs for the Pearl Street Mall and the original (and updated) University of Colorado Master Plan. The final designs for the project are set to be finished in the fall of 2024, while full-site activation is expected for 2026.

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