Saiki Design worked on a multi-phase project for the City of Dubuque to daylight an underground stormwater conveyance system and envision a space that would mitigate historic flooding issues and provide accessible open space to adjacent neighborhoods. The project resulted in over $100 million in construction, much of which was funded by grants and donations.
Identified as an iconic and community-centered space during the master planning process, the amphitheater came to life as a spacious, organically curved series of terraced walls and steps constructed of local limestone. Oriented to overlook the Bee Branch Creek low-flow channel, the amphitheater embodies many of the project’s goals and vision for multi-purpose, timeless spaces. The design team worked carefully to integrate accessible paths along with stairs and seating. A water feature, utilizing condensate from the neighboring school’s geothermal field, cascades down the outside edge and invites visitors into the space.
One of the consistent features of the corridor design was a series of highly detailed nodes and overlooks to provide areas for respite and gathering along the length of the corridor. While some of the simple, elegant nodes include basic elements of shade, seating and drinking fountains, others were designed to integrate components of stormwater mitigation. At 22nd Street, the design team crafted a space that is dynamic and interesting on a daily basis but serves as a stormwater overflow channel during large storm events.
A series of pockets for community play spaces along the corridor were envisioned as dynamic areas with some prefabricated play equipment and some natural, flexible materials. The orchard play area celebrates locally-grown, healthy food options in an urban environment by hosting a bosque of apple, pear and cherry trees. Raised planters of edibles including rhubarb, strawberries, and herbs, encourage children (and adults!) to interact with all of their senses. Dynamic and fixed elements, reclaimed logs set in a field of colorful poured-in-place rubber surface and a sand play area attract visitors to the space. At the slide play area, the design team embraced the existing topography of the embankments leading down to the low-flow channel. Four prefabricated slides were carefully detailed to traverse the slope with accessible play options and safety surfacing, while adjacent terraces of salvaged limestone blocks provide an unprogrammed, exciting climbing opportunity.
A cutting-edge approach to wetland mitigation and stormwater quality improvements, floating islands are a unique ecosystem planted with native vegetation and accented with driftwood and other natural materials to create habitat, remove nutrients and reduce suspended sediment in the water body in which they are placed. Their implementation at highly visible locations has put the City of Dubuque at the forefront of efforts to improve water quality in the Bee Branch Watershed and ultimately the Mississippi River.