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Merging green infrastructure techniques with contemporary design aesthetics, Roberto Clemente Park will serve as a precedent to upcoming improvements within the Grand Rapids parks system. Focusing on stormwater sustainability, the design highlights the complexity of sensitive native micro-ecosystems. 

Treating parts of a watershed as distinct elements of original natural systems, rather than piping stormwater to one central pipe or holding facility, will allow for many on-site treating improvements, specifically, using groundwater recharge as a means of allowing soils and native plantings to slow down, cleanse, soak up stormwater. Bio-swales and rain gardens will significantly reduce current pollutant loads being discharged to Grand River. Removal of invasive species and restoration of native meadows will increase biodiversity and reduce run-off and traditional mowing practices.

The park design is a renovation of aging facilities and gray stormwater infrastructure, offering multiple ways to approach the challenge of designing high-performing, sustainable landscape and recreation elements. Universally accessible foot paths will wind through the green infrastructure and connect the neighborhood and school to the park. Timber bridges, logs, and outcropping boulders will be used to cross the bio-swales, exposing the public to the sights and sounds of the natural processes. An open, covered pavilion will overlook the natural playscape and provide a place for to sit, engage, and enjoy the surroundings. Additionally, an outdoor classroom includes bilingual interpretive features  to promote eco-literacy within the community.

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Client:  City of Grand Rapids

Completion Date:  July 2021

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Clemente Park Plan
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