Steve Kelly, LASN editor
Landscape Architecture by Howard-Fairbairn Site Design, Oklahoma City
Fountain Design and Engineering by Delta Fountains
Norman, Oklahoma (pop. 118,040) is situated in the center of the panhandle state, about 20 miles south of downtown Oklahoma City. The history of Oklahoma is noteworthy for being part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase from France, and for the sorry history of the U.S. Government resettling the Five Civilized Tribes there. Treaties in 1832 and 1833 relegated the Creek Nation to what today is the Norman area.
It was the famous 1889 land rush of "unassigned lands," however, that brought settlers in droves to the area, and it was the land surveyor of that time, Abner Norman, for which the city was named. Edna Ferber's 1929 novel, Cimarron, relates the stories of those pioneers.
Fast-forward to 2008 and the design of Legacy Park in Norman by the landscape architecture firm Howard-Fairbairn Site Design, and Delta Fountains. The park project, however, had a construction hiatus, one of the many effects of the Great Recession. While that recession officially ended in June 2009, the park remained dormant. The daily reminder of the unfinished park was the "Dirt Mound," the locals' apt description for the mountainous pile of soil on the park site. Finally, in late 2012, the park project was revived and completed in just over two years.
Legacy Park sits in the heart of the University North Park shopping district. This 2-mile TIF (tax increment financing) District was established by city ordinance after extensive public input and hearings. The district is bounded by I-35, Westheimer Airport, and Robinson and Tecumseh streets in the area of Norman that was a U.S. Naval Base ("North Base") during WWII.
The park acts as a multiuse community event and recreation center. An architectural entrance welcomes visitors to an open promenade, running trails, a nearly 1,000-person amphitheater and stage, with room for future restaurants and retail locations. The heart of the park, however, is the nearly one-acre lake that the promenade encircles. Delta Fountains designed and engineered the mechanical and electrical aspects of all the water features within the lake, and then updated the designs in 2012 to incorporate new technology not available for the original park design.
The lake's most prominent water features are the crescent of air cannons near the middle of the basin, and the cascading water scuppers built into the masonry columns. Smaller, more understated air diffusers and submersible aerator snorkels run out to the farthermost corners of the lake to oxygenate and stir the water to and promote a healthier pool environment.
The four feature elements - air cannons, cascading water scuppers, air diffusers and submersible aerator snorkels - are connected beneath the water's surface by a custom Delta air manifold. This allows the scroll air compressor and spin clean strainers to pull water from the air compressor, reverse the flow to clean the system of excess debris and allow enough air pressure to travel through the entire length of the one-acre pool. It also allows for distribution of water to each of the four feature elements with enough pressure to support the systems throughout the day, and during the multiple water and RGB LED light shows.
While all four features are connected to the same network, they each posed challenges for the team because of the size of the pool. The cannons required the most engineering demands, as they are located in the middle of the lake. The designers needed to house the cannon assemblies to allow for regular maintenance, and to run enough air pressure and electricity to the custom stainless steel air cannons, smooth bore nozzles and waterproof RGB LED lights, whose networks are more than 1,000 feet from the water's edge. The Delta Fountains team members overcame these special location factors by designing stands to sit above the water's surface, and by redesigning a Delta Air manifold to allow for the length needed. Each air cannon assembly sits on a stand mounted to the basin floor. The cannon assembly components and smooth bore nozzles are just above the water's surface. This design allows for easier access to the components during regular servicing. Electrical solenoid valves were used to allow for greater pressure control from the manifold to the cannon assemblies and individual actuation of each air/cannon assembly.
Isolating splitters run along the submerged piping network to carry DMX signals from the underground vaults beneath the promenade to the waterproof RGB LEDs mounted on the air cannon stands in the pool, and to the linear RGB LEDs mounted beneath the scuppers along the outside columns surrounding the promenade. The stainless steel scuppers are mounted with custom brackets that allowed them to be built into the masonry columns running along the water's edge. Each mounting bracket also supports the waterproof linear RGB LEDs. Water is pumped through an air manifold in the pool through vertical piping in each column to feed water up and out the scuppers at the controller's bidding.
The four water features run on a network that feeds signals to each one from the vaults beneath the promenade. Controllers in each vault are on a network ring, allowing any of the vaults to be controlled by the others. This system also allows for remote show changes and diagnostics on site and off. Despite the many project challenges, team members adhered to a strict budget without cost overruns. Norman's interrupted park is now a boost to this proud city.
University North Park Development, Norman, Oka.
Norman Parks Director: Jud Foster
Prime Consultant/Landscape Architect: Howard-Fairbairn Site Design, Inc. (HFSD), Oklahoma City
Principal: Scott Howard, ASLA
Award: 2010 ASLA Central States Honor Award
Architect: Mckinney Partnership Architects (Stage Structure & Restroom Facilities)
Fountain Design Engineer: Delta Fountains, Jacksonville, Fla.
General Contractor: CGC Construction, LLC., Edmond, Oka.
Civil Engineering: SMC Consulting
Electrical/Mechanical Engineering: Darr-Collins
Lighting (RGB LEDs): Unmei International, Inc.
Structural Engineering: Structural Engineering Group
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