Urban Design and Landscape Architecture Firm Civitas Designs Water Resiliency into ASLA Award-Winning North Stapleton Open Space Plan

North Stapleton’s new northern parks system, designed by Denver urban design and landscape architecture firm Civitas, includes Sandhills Prairie Park with sweeping views of the Front Range.

Residents are offered an array of interactive experiences to better appreciate the role of water in the prairie landscape.

With the catastrophic storm flooding in Houston and Florida again sounding the alarm about development patterns and ever-expanding impermeable urban surfaces in cities across the U.S., the sustainable design strategies for one Denver, Colorado, neighborhood stand out. Denver-based urban design and landscape architecture firm Civitas has been instrumental in the design of Stapleton, a 4000-acre mixed-use brownfield redevelopment on the former Stapleton Airport site, since the community’s inception in 1988, particularly in the articulation of its beloved parks and greenways.

Now as final developable acreage in Stapleton is being graded for construction, most of the community’s parks system has opened, even as the North Stapleton Open Space Plan for the newest neighborhoods north of I-70 has won Civitas a 2017 ASLA Colorado merit award. A final centerpiece of the plan—Prairie Meadows Park—is scheduled to open spring of 2018.

With the double function as green space and drainage ways, “Stapleton Parks were designed to handle major storm events,” says Scott Jordan, Civitas principal and design lead for Stapleton’s open spaces. At a recent community meeting, a resident observed, “The system is working. When we’ve had heavy rains, our homes didn’t flood,” adding an emphatic “thank you.” And between storms, the creative drainage solutions provide myriad active outdoor uses, including a kid-friendly creek bed in Prairie Meadows Park.

With over 250 acres of recently opened parks and open spaces between I-70 and 56th Avenue, Civitas has taken the relatively flat site and created a series of strategic and sculptural landforms that naturally convey storm water in lieu of piping it underground. “By using a natural and visible system of water conveyance, residents are offered an array of interactive experiences to better appreciate the role of water in the prairie landscape,” explains Jordan….

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