Boulder Civic Area Park Development Project

In the heart of Boulder, Colorado, renovations are under way to improve the historic but outdated Civic Area Park​. The green space has served the city well as the home of the farmer’s market, festivals, and recreational activities. The time has now come to update the landscape to make better use of the land, improve pedestrian and bike paths, and protect city facilities currently in high-hazard flood zones. PCL has supported the City of Boulder’s values and wishes by repurposing many of the trees that were removed to change the park landscape.   

In 2015, the Boulder City Council adopted the new Civic Area Master Plan, which delineated a long-term vision to transform the civic area into a space that reflects the community’s shared values and diversity, while also providing opportunity for people to gather, eat, learn, deliberate, and innovate. The Master Plan provided the blueprint that will update outdated aspects of the downtown Civic Area, as well as introduce new features that will enhance the experience for citizens and visitors. PCL Construction was hired in July 2016 to help bring the City’s vision to reality.


The park’s east pedestrian bridge was the first piece to be replaced, with a signature feature that is as artful as it is utilitarian. The new bridge is made of COR-TEN weathering steel and has two sections, one over a rain garden, and a longer section that stretches over Boulder Creek. Colored and textured cast-in-place paving makes the bridge blend in with the iconic Flatirons, a sandstone rock formation that acts as a backdrop to the city of Boulder. The bridge mirrors the natural colors of the surrounding scenery while offering pedestrians and cyclists a wide path across the creek.

An entirely revamped nature play area will replace playground equipment that was lost to flood damage in 2014. It will include large timber play structures, salvaged climbing logs, a water play area, and an embankment slide. A rerouted bike and pedestrian path will make navigation easier for cyclists and walkers passing through the civic area.

New earthen mounds and wetland buffers will change the existing landscape of the park and provide enhanced views of the creek from custom cordwood benches made of wood re-purposed from the trees that were removed during the demolition process. These salvaged trees undergo a nine-month drying process to achieve a required moisture content necessary for the fabrication process. To perform this drying, PCL designed and built a solar kiln structure that uses solar heat coupled with air flow circulation while protecting the wood from the elements.


The project involves intensive phasing and coordination between the City of Boulder and PCL to minimize public disruption due to its location within the heart of Boulder. PCL prioritized the installation of the new pedestrian bridges early in the project to allow community access through the park and over the river during the primary scopes of construction. Additionally, the team faces the challenge of working in a floodplain on both sides of Boulder Creek. Yearly snow melt and rain causes creeks in Colorado to typically run higher in the spring and early summer season. Oversaturated ground can pose dangers to heavy machinery and workers. Because of these risks, and out of respect for the environment, PCL has made it a mission to limit disruption to the natural flow of the creek.

When completed in early December of 2017, the renovated Civic Area Park will provide a space where Boulder residents and tourists can gather that speaks to the community’s shared values and diversity.

PCL Construction in Denver updates the Civic Area Park in Boulder, Colorado to improve
usability while protecting the city's facilities, originally in high-hazard flood zones.