Grand Junction Glow-Up: Land Collective and HWKN complete a park in Westfield, Indiana, that supports the lives of residents. The Architect's Newspaper, Jun. 30, 2023.
Above the start of Grassy Branch of Cool Creek in the small city of Westfield, Indiana, a wooden boardwalk snakes through a renaturalized streambed where pedestrians can hop over the stream or get their feet wet in the flowing water. Nearby, the new park, the Grand Junction Park & Plaza, accommodates dedicated spaces for open-air performances; a glass-walled cafe with a cascading, stepped Indiana limestone facade; and a Great Lawn for lounging. Park users can picnic and play, ice-skate in the winter, or enjoy the many comfortable wooden benches from which they can peacefully observe the resurgence of wildlife.
The park, which officially opened last year, was designed by David Rubin of Land Collective with architecture by Matthias Hollwich of HWKN in collaboration with RATIO Architects and signage and wayfinding by Bruce Mau Design, along with an extended team of civil engineers and riparian-corridor specialists. While the end result is impressive, the effort began as a more limited project focused on flood control.
“All of these assets became possible because there was a social overlay to infrastructure,” Rubin said. “It was that marriage that made this all possible. We came up with this vision for the park that resolved the climate crisis issues and the riparian-corridor reparation issues that then had this social overlay that would create a new central park around which development could happen.” The creek at the downtown crossroads of Westfield had overflowed throughout its history. After the Swamp and Overflowed Lands Act of 1850, the Army Corps of Engineers fixed the problem in the rough- and-tumble way of early American settlements: It channelized Cool Creek to keep water from destroying productive farmlands, inserting a pipe through which the normal flow of water could pass. But in the last 20 years, regular 100-year storms began to repeatedly overtop the levee, overwhelming the pipe and flooding the area.
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