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outdated Civic Area Park.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provided the blueprint that will update outdated aspects of the downtown Civic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.
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.
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.
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.
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