This unique project combines landscape architecture principles and engineering techniques in a public open space as an innovative way to resolve stormwater issues while enhancing community life. The development of Historic Fourth Ward Park demonstrates the value of sustainable, collaborative design and the positive social, environmental and economic impact it can have on a community. The final product is a public park that reduces energy use, contributes to vital ecological processes and is maintained in an environmentally responsible way.
This 17-acre park has transformed a barren, contaminated site near Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthplace into a vision for sustainable redevelopment. Flood protection and stormwater overflow solutions are disguised through artistic park features “celebrating” water. Economic redevelopment has been jumpstarted by additional park amenities, such as flowing walkways and a city greensward; a splashpad and playground; a recirculating stream and wildflower meadows; and a multi-purpose recreation field and Atlanta’s first skate park.
Special factors: More than 80 years ago, Clear Creek flowed freely through what is now the site of H4WP. During the 1930’s, the creek was contained into a nine-foot diameter combined sewer pipe erasing all evidence of Clear Creek until the wake of a flood event. One goal of the project was to mitigate the flooding and remind residents of the creek that once carried water through this long neglected site. Careful selection of materials and design elements remind visitors of this forgotten riparian element. Clear Creek was not the only neglected component on this 17-acre property; during construction of H4WP, diesel contamination was encountered along with lead soils and asbestos from a landfill. Another aspiration was to create a recreation destination for an area that lacked such a venue. By designing the park’s open space feature to couple with the development of the skatepark, a unique regional destination rejuvenated the community and gave life to a space once forgotten. Additionally, the project addressed several environmental concerns by removing harmful contaminants from the once blighted area. Ultimately the project’s success offers a desirable destination for residents to congregate and celebrate another rebirth of Atlanta.
The park also demonstrates cost-neutral energy usage, with a series of solar panels designed as an architectural shade canopy along the park’s pathways. The renewable energy is sold to Georgia Power Co., and the city purchases power off the grid at a lower rate, keeping the park cost neutral for energy usage. The park utilizes LED lighting, system controls and a maintenance plan – all designed to lower energy costs.