12-15-22 | Feature

Hyatt Park: Columbia, South Carolina

The neighborhood association had a strong desire for a community gathering area.
by KBS Landscape Architects

Hyatt Park, a recently renovated community hub in South Carolina's capital of Columbia, is now a beacon of natural beauty. The entry takes advantage of the central stream's newfound design. It also provides seating for parents who want to watch their children as they play on the splash pad.
The daylighted stream creates an aesthetic for the site while adding environmental and educational value, something that was emphasized with the inclusion of educational signage around the site.
The bio-retention area reduces the stormwater impact and enhances water quality for the entire site. The water-adjacent plants also embrace the natural look of the project.
The weir controls water run-off and provides a highly desired safe connection to nature for children in the neighborhood.
The upper weir contains a V-notch for hydrology.
The pavilion creates a gathering space for education and community camaraderie. It includes a shaded, paved gathering space that is surrounded with grass patches and concrete wall seating.
The excavated pipe that once held the creek is repurposed into children's play spaces.
The splash pad provides a space for children to interact with the site. A hydrophobic coating was applied to the splash pad to reveal the "NOMA" (North Main Neighborhood) logo when the concrete is wet.
The 25 foot sculpture called "The Guardian" creates a focal point and pedestrian connection between Hyatt Park and other areas of interest within the neighborhood.
The man-made beaver dam is a meticulously engineered structure for stormwater quality and control of velocity as well as turbidity control. It was designed by KBS to act as traditional beaver dams do, using real trees. The soil around the dam is compacted with logs buried beneath.

As a gateway to the South Carolina capital city of Columbia, Eau Claire's Hyatt Park represents an opportunity for symbiosis between the human and natural environment. Upon its initial discovery in 1901, the site was described as featuring "cool grottos in sylvan recess... with dark streams." Yet amid population and development increase, that dark stream in the grotto has become a ditch into a pipe, a conveyance of water into an impaired system. The Hyatt Park Project implements stream daylighting to restore and utilize the recreational, educational, and environmental value of the water source.

The 11-acre park previously featured both passive and active recreation opportunities. Active recreation consisted of two baseball fields, two basketball courts, and a playground. Passive elements included public art, a mature tree canopy, expansive green space, and picnic tables. A community center with a gymnasium is located on site and is a tremendous resource for the surrounding low-income communities. The topography of the park revealed a fold down its midsection, with a piped creek flowing south through the centerline of the parcel. It was marked by a trail of unattractive stormwater manholes in raised concrete catch basins.

Prior to the redesign of Hyatt Park, the City of Columbia's Park and Recreation staff conducted multiple community design charettes and surveys to understand what features the Hyatt Park Keenan Terrace Neighborhood Association (H.P.K.T.N.A.) would like incorporated in the parks redesign. Based on their input, Todd Martin, the city's Landscape Architect and park planner, developed the conceptual central master plan. The focus of the plan was to daylight a piped tributary and restore the connection with nature to an urban population.
Upon adoption of the master plan, the City of Columbia and the H.P.K.T.N.A. selected Kenneth B. Simmons and Associates (KBS) as the prime consultant to develop construction documents.

The Hyatt Park Revitalization included many new park amenities such as hill-slides, play structures, a splash pad, a large open play field, a multi-use amphitheater, an interactive stream, and much more. Each feature was creatively placed to seamlessly fit into the natural landscape motif. Creative grading techniques were used to provide seamless transitions between passive and active recreation areas. The existing hill behind the community center was a relatively steep unusable area. The design team regraded this area to incorporate hill-slides. This is a safer slide that children can run up the hill and slide down without being elevated high in the air. The design team centered the active recreation features together for safety and visual connection.

The neighborhood association had a strong desire for a community gathering area. The pavilion area or amphitheater is the center point of the site. This is an area where community members can congregate for events like concerts, meetings, outdoor learning, or other social gatherings.
This area also overlooks the the park, taking advantage of the stream's newfound beauty. The splash pad was also implemented into this area for active recreation during the warmer weather, using the amphitheater as a seating option for parents. Using a hydrophobic solution, the design team incorporated the neighborhood associations logo into the splashpad, so it would appear when the splashpad is on and the surface is wet.
The water from the splash pad then leads into the newfound stream below. The original plan was to daylight approximately 500 linear feet of an unnamed piped tributary and restore approximately 500 linear feet of an existing USGS Blue Line Stream that existed in the park. During design development, it was determined that the existing blue line tributary could be restored simply with appropriate maintenance techniques and buffers. The final plan resulted in 1,150 linear feet of new daylighted stream. This was also an opportunity to use the pieces of the existing pipe and repurpose them as play and educational components within the park.

The design team used many different green infrastructure techniques to help improve the newfound stream. The stream banks have manageable slopes and are bioengineered with a mix of stone and variety of vegetation. The planting palette is a mix of native plants that mimic the natural setting found in the Smith Branch streamside landscape. The vegetative buffers reduce the flow and velocity of surface runoff, enhance infiltration, and reduce pollutant discharge by capturing and holding sediments and other pollutants carried in the runoff water.

Other techniques, such as an engineered beaver dam structure, along with plunge pools were used to create a pool and riffle effect that remove sediment from the flow and helps slow down the velocity of water to reduce the turbidity. The 8,115-square-foot bio-retention areas capture and filter runoff from the surrounding impervious park components, nearby residential lots, surrounding roads, and large paved commercial areas north of the park. These basins are planted with clusters of native plants that thrive in both
wetland and dry conditions.

While the new green infrastructure will help to improve the storm water quality, habitat, and diversity, the design team used this as an educational opportunity. Educational signs will be located near each proposed BMP (Best Management Practices) to detail the work completed and the benefit to the environment and community.

The restoration exceeded project objectives by daylighting approximately 650 linear feet more stream that the original projections, which has helped to improve water quality, reduce velocity and impact of urban runoff downstream, enhance habitat diversity, and provide an outdoor learning lab illustrating the best management practices for urban streams and storm water.


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