An Unordinary Process for Superior’s Wildflower Park

In Superior Colorado an engaged local community asked for a wide variety of park amenities to help enhance their quality of life

Gathering public input for a new park from the local community was an unordinary process. Wildflower Park was a multi-year planning project in this old, but new community.

Boom to Bust to Boom

Named after the “superior” quality of coal in the area, the Town of Superior was founded in 1896.  After 1945 when the mine closed and most residents moved away, the town evolved into a quiet ranching and farming community with a tiny population around 250 for decades.  Then, in the mid-1980’s, growth began again and commercial, retail and significant residential housing development has been ongoing since.  Today, the population is 12,857 according to the town’s own demographic profile.

Thorough, Comprehensive, Exhaustive, Meticulous Process

Superior is home to a population made up of new residences and relocated families.  A big chunk of them played a role in developing the program and design for the town’s first new community-wide park.   

Multiple public facilitation and outreach processes provided mechanisms for the community to participate in planning. Here’s what was heard and understood

  • Wishes
  • Concerns
  • Issues
  • Needs
  • Gaps
  • Goals
  • Visions

Community In Motion

This is a park that encourages movement in many ways. The individual park features promote multiple opportunities for swinging, climbing sliding, balancing, and gliding. In addition, the park features are dispersed along flowing, interwoven paths that entice kids (and adults) to run, jog, or walk from event to event in all sorts of ways, maybe taking a different turn or climbing over a boulder to get there. While zipping along, swinging or climbing on one event, they have a view of another fun activity just beyond. They jump off, navigate a winding route to a new play activity, and repeat, without having to follow the same route or pattern twice. Whether strolling the ⅓-mile main loop trail, playing basketball, or using the outdoor fitness equipment, there are activities for everyone to get moving in fun ways.

Amenities Abound for Enhanced Quality of Life

There’s no lack of features to keep the 12,000+ residents entertained, connected to nature and the outdoors.   

Lots of features and things to do for multi-generational play
A mix of active play and passive native planting areas make for a natural park setting in Superior Colorado
  • Net climber play area
  • Basketball court
  • Sand volleyball court
  • Park shelters
  • Picnic tables
  • Bike racks
  • Grills
  • Slackline Posts
  • Climbing rock with embankment slide
  • Zipline – 95 foot!
  • Swings
  • Walking paths
  • Game tables
  • Bocce court
  • Outdoor fitness equipment
  • “Biggo” swing
  • Strap swings and ADA swing
  • Freestyle swing
  • Overlook with shelter and pergolas
  • Custom slide shaped like a 3rd Flatiron Mountain by IDS

Wild Wildflower Park

The park design re-creates a look of a native landscape extending the impression and feel of nearby open spaces.  It’s intentionally designed to NOT look ornamental. It’s designed to have a wild, informal and flowing feel like the blowing open prairie of the natural environment.  

Sure there’s some formal areas, but they’re interspersed with native plants.  The park’s central green is surrounded by native plantings and non-turf areas are covered with native trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers.   

The town conducted a contest to name the park.  From a pool of over 100 suggestions, the one that rose to the top honors the natural design and the indigenous plantings of grasses, shrubs and groundcover seed filled with native wildflowers... Wildflower Park

Aerial image provided by The Town of Superior Colorado

Aerial image provided by The Town of Superior Colorado

Synthetic Field of Dreams at Boulder Valley Schools

New synthetic turf field at Platt Middle School in Boulder Colorado with the flatirons in background

New Synthetic Turf Fields For Boulder Valley Schools

In the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD), six middle schools have new athletic play fields thanks to the 2014 Building for Student Success Bond Program providing funding for capital improvements throughout the district.  

Design Concepts worked with the district and JVA Inc and each of the architecture teams on the design of new tracks and synthetic fields at these seven schools:

Angevine Middle School

Broomfield Heights Middle School

Manhattan School of Arts and Academics

Platt Middle School

Centaurus High School

Centennial Middle School

Louisville Middle School

According to the District's bond website, “Students and community members alike will have more opportunity for exercising outside on new artificial turf fields installed at six BVSD middle schools. Because they are more durable than natural grass, the artificial fields provide more play time each day and throughout the year. The fields also use less water and chemicals and require less maintenance than natural grass.”

Benefits Of Synthetic Turf

Due to the many of benefits of synthetic turf fields, such as those listed below, it’s a responsible investment and wise use of money.  

  • Busting the seed/reseed cycle – no annual reseeding to maintain a healthy sod field, therefore it lowers maintenance needs and provides and cost savings.
  • No more ugly splotches of dead grass or messy mud puddles –synthetic turf maintains a pristine aesthetic and performance appeal.
  • 365-day playability – rain or shine, synthetic turf fields are weather tolerant able to move water off the surface resulting in fewer cancellations due to poor weather conditions like a water soaked field. The synthetic turf field provides a playable surface year round.
  • No watering! – the synthetic turf requires zero watering.  This is an environmentally sustainable solution.
  • Virtually no-maintenance - there’s no mowing, irrigating, fertilizing, aeration or over-seeding required.
  • Reduce injuries – synthetic turf fields are shock-absorbing and with no areas of torn up grass or patches of slippery mud, injuries due to these causes are less likely.

What Is Synthetic Turf?

The Synthetic Turf Council describes the latest generation of synthetic turf as “a grass-like ground cover that replicates lush natural grass in appearance and function. When used on athletic fields, it provides a consistent year-round, all-weather playing surface built to withstand extended use without downtime for recovery. As a landscape cover, synthetic turf provides a low maintenance, weed-free surface that doesn't need to be watered or fertilized, and is available in styles that look like the grass types that are prevalent locally.”

Athletic Fields Require Expert Know-How

Sports fields are technical whether sod or synthetic turf.  The planning, design, detailing and construction considers many variables unique to each site.  

Attention to every detail in the design and construction of synthetic turf fields help create ideal high-performing fields. This includes expert drainage systems to shed water off the field including attention to field slope, underground drainage systems, and other water removal solutions. Existing soils conditions, field orientation, weather conditions, and specifications dictated by regional athletic associations including placement and size of markers and lanes all impact the design process and ultimately, field performance.

BVSD’s Track and Field Layout

For the BVSD schools, new six-lane tracks and multi-purpose fields, permanent striping and markings are incorporated into the synthetic turf. Each are designed to accommodate football, soccer and track and field athletic events.

Winter Park is Upping Its Summer Game

A World Class Concert Venue

Winter Park will unveil the new Hideaway Park Stage on June 22. With the permanent new amphitheater, the town best known for skiing and sledding will solidify its position as one of the top summer destinations of Colorado.

 The Hideaway Park Stage, impeccably designed By Semple Brown of Denver with a sloping white canopy evoking snow drifts and moguls will bring an outdoor performance stage to Grand County that will rival any in the state.

The new park, anchored by the amphitheater and its gorgeous stage, has extensive grounds. The expanded park, designed by Design Concepts Landscape Architects of Lafayette, includes a playground and picnic areas, climbing wall and firepits, lush and expansive lawn, multi-level plazas, and fabulous art everywhere you go. All this plus Hideaway Park’s legendary skate park.

Hideaway Park Stage opens Thursday, June 22 with a free concert by Big Head Todd and the Monsters. The complete summer concert series will be announced soon (check www.playwinterpark.com).

Summer's Here, Get Your Festival On!

So here’s a plan for a great summer 2017 get-away. Arrive in time for the ribbon cutting at 6:00 p.m., enjoy the festivities throughout the park, then rock out with friends and family to and Big Head Todd and the Monsters under the stars. After the weekend, tweet the best pics to #winterparklife and stay in touch with the year-round fun at Winter Park.

When Design Becomes Brand

It’s easy to know when a design inspires. It happens when a feature, a detail, a visual concept becomes the brand. Great art and architecture often is used as the graphic visual to tell a brand story. At Inspiration Playground in Bellevue the majestic Whimsical Wisdom Tree is a perfect example. It is the centerpiece of a great story: from how it came to be, to a beautiful story of whom it will bring joy and smiles to young faces.

Hideaway Park: A 4-Season Bowl of Concert, Festival and Outdoor Entertainment

Girl kid on snow sledding hill in winter park hideaway concert festival venue amphitheater
People gather to socialize at the fire pit at Hideaway Park in Colorado amphitheater concert and festival venue and playground

Even before the new iconic 2,600 square foot performance stage opens for business next month, the outdoor amphitheater at Hideaway Park has proven its worth as a premier performance place.  In fact, it was voted #3 as “The Best Outdoor Concert Venues in Ski Country,” by Curbed Ski in June 2016.

Design Concepts designed the amphitheater as part of a major renovation and expansion of the park back in 2010.  And the design has proven to be a dynamic 24/7 year-round hot spot of fun and non-stop entertainment since that time.

A Bowl for Ultimate Visibility

People sitting watching on grass lawn amphitheater concert venue for music festival in winter park Colorado with mountains in back

The amphitheater was designed for maximum comfort as well as line-of-sight views during performances. The amphitheater bowl with an 11 foot elevation change, creates ideal sightlines for viewing the stage while enjoying panoramic views of Winter Park’s mountains and the Continental Divide.

4-Season Bowl

Guy with dog sitting on grass lawn amphitheater seating watching a concert festival stage in winter park colorado

During the first phase of expanding Hideaway Park, the design focused on seasonal flexibility starting with a gentle contouring and gradual slope.

In the summertime, it’s a perfectly groomed sloped lawn ideal for viewing high-velocity performances like the Winter Park Jazz Festival, special event activities like Winter Park Beer Festival or watching the big screen during movie nights.

When the season changes and morphs into winter, it’s a white wonderland of winter play, smack in the middle of downtown Winter Park, with free sledding by day or night.

The Next Evolution

The park site and amphitheater spaces are undergoing updatesto complement the new performance stage, which is designed by Semple Brown. It’s a soaring beautiful new beacon that will draw even more top-notch entertainment and visitors to #PlayWinterPark!

Kids exploring and having an adventure social in a boulder rock playground equipment