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03-15-21 | Feature

Local Park Inspired by Community's History

Mebane Community Park in North Carolina
by Surface 678

The Landscape Architects with Surface 678 designed the Mebane Community Park in Mebane, North Carolina with waving and curving patterns to reflect the city's history influenced by a rail line running through the middle of the community. On the far side of the pavilion, the Landscape Architect designed a recreational lawn to permit park guests to enjoy the hybrid Bermuda grass when the sports fields are occupied. The oval shape of the lawn connects to the overall movement theme of the park while also fitting well with the asphalt trail that circumnavigates it.
The synthetic turf athletic fields have a geo-organic turf infill composed of a combination of cork and coconut husk. The coconut and cork significantly reduce high tempuratres on the turf, mitigating parent's concerns about excessive heat generated by the hot summer sun.
The splashpad area utilizes jets flush with the surface that can be turned off allowing the splashpad to serve as a plaza for community events. The water flows through a drainage system, as opposed to a recirculating splash pad. From left to right the surfacing changes to a light blue and leads back to the blue colored water play element connecting this section with the play area on the other side of the cast-in-place seat wall.
Poured-in-place rubber surfacing was used throughout the play area to create a durable and safe experience. The surfacing colors of cream, beige, and light blue were added to tie the play area in with the rest of the park. Additionally, the beige coloration accentuates the color and shape of the play mounds. On the other side of the path, the play fields are enclosed with vinyl coated chain link fence. 18' elevated netting was included on the southern and northern ends of the field to increase safety to pedestrians on the path.
Poured-in-place rubber surfacing was used throughout the play area to create a durable and safe experience. The surfacing colors of cream, beige, and light blue were added to tie the play area in with the rest of the park. Additionally, the beige coloration accentuates the color and shape of the play mounds. On the other side of the path, the play fields are enclosed with vinyl coated chain link fence. 18' elevated netting was included on the southern and northern ends of the field to increase safety to pedestrians on the path.
Posts and beams made of glue-laminated timber were used as the frame for the park pavilion structure and given a redwood transparent stain to provide a rich and warm texture that contrasts nicely with the decorative concrete of the plaza.
Posts and beams made of glue-laminated timber were used as the frame for the park pavilion structure and given a redwood transparent stain to provide a rich and warm texture that contrasts nicely with the decorative concrete of the plaza.
A pavilion structure, located at the center of the park, allows access from one side to the other through an open middle section while providing shade and seating for park guests. The structure was mostly constructed of western red cedar. The roof of the pavilion was designed to be slanted to mimic the feeling of movement created by the paving within the park.
Multi-head light fixtures allow light to be focused on specific areas of the park; a necessity due to the fields remaining open after dark. When a field is in use at night, the multi-head fixture increase safety by illuminating important areas and pavilion amenities such as the restrooms.
The design team was challenged with providing a diverse arrangement of park elements that appealed to all ages and walks of life, while also filling the towns critical need for more active recreation fields. The splash pad, playground, park pavilion structure, multipurpose lawn, and lawn amphitheatre were integrated into the main central open space. Additionally, a network of walking trails provide a 1/2-mile park perimeter loop and greenway.

The city of Mebane, North Carolina's industrial past was bolstered by the implementation of a central rail line in the mid-1800s. The forms of rail lines and switching yards served as inspiration for the pavement forms and spaces for the main plaza and program areas of the new Mebane Community Park. Varying integral colored concrete bands accentuate these forms, define programmatic spaces, and highlight the main pedestrian promenade that leads park patrons from the main parking area to the park pavilion structure and entrance to the athletic field complex. The project also strived to embrace the brand standards recently adopted by the town leadership. Brand colors and forms were implemented into the playground surfaces, and concrete pavements in the central plaza areas.

Design and Master Planning Process
The planning process began with a collaborative stakeholder engagement that included numerous meetings with the selected Mebane Community Park Steering Committee. The committee consisted of city staff, recreation and parks staff, council members, and citizens. This diverse group provided the design team with valuable perspective on proposed master plan options. The city and design team also facilitated community meetings to gain input from citizens on program elements, site materials, and site layout to ensure that the community's vision aligned with the preferred plan. Information gathered from these meetings was summarized and served as the foundation for the proposed preferred master plan option. A major component of the preferred master plan option was to provide a park design that kept vehicular and service areas at the perimeter of the park allowing for pedestrian connections between central program spaces to be unencumbered by vehicular traffic.

Program and Park Elements
The design team was challenged with providing a diverse arrangement of park elements that appealed to all ages and walks of life, while also filling the towns critical need for more active recreation fields. A splash pad, playground, park pavilion structure, multipurpose lawn, and lawn amphitheatre were integrated into the main central open space. Additionally, a network of perimeter walking trails provide a 1/2-mile park perimeter loop greenway. The park design balances both passive and active recreation. The design team collaborated to provide a park design that provided pedestrian and park spaces uninterrupted by parking, service, and entry drives. The park design also includes critical infrastructure improvements including a main park entrance design to the highway to the south and a new connection to an adjacent residential area and downtown to the east.

Located on the west side of downtown Mebane, the park serve's as a destination and event center for city events and festivals. The splash pad was designed to be adjacent to the lawn amphitheatre on the upper end of the lawn to provide additional seating for larger performances and also to provide accessible seating areas for wheelchair patrons. The splashpad has minimal permanent above ground features thus can function as an open event plaza for performances and festivals when turned off.

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Adjacent to the athletic fields and splash pad, the playground is centrally located and in close proximity to the park pavilion structure as well as the parking area. Providing adequate shade was a key outcome from the community engagement process. The playground design includes four main play elements and three shade structures. Canopy trees are planted in structural soil around the playground perimeter to provide additional shade long term. A poured-in-place rubber surface provides safe, and easily maintainable play surface throughout the playground.

The athletic field utilizes a synthetic grass surface with shock absorption pad underlayment. During the public input process, concern was expressed by citizens about the temperature of the fields during the warmer summer months. The project provides a natural infill material that reduces the overall temperature of the field and provides a safe play environment throughout the year. The athletic fields accommodate numerous sports and programs. The design team worked closely with recreation and parks staff to develop the field size and striping layout that accommodates play areas for multiple age groups and sport types.

A main feature of the central park space is the pedestrian promenade. The hardscape area provides pedestrian connection from the parking area to the main park elements while also allowing for fire apparatus, service, and emergency vehicle access.

A Bosque of American elms anchors the western edge of the central open space and park pavilion. Moveable hammocks are placed in and around the trees to provide a shaded and unique park experience.

Surface 678 and Alley Williams Carmen and King collaborated on the design on the park pavilion structure. The buildings provide restrooms, park offices, concessions, covered picnic space, and utility rooms for IT and lighting controls. An open-air portal was designed through the structure to connect the central axis between the athletic fields to the multipurpose lawn area.

Planting Design
The planting design considers the use of native and drought tolerant plant material that reinforce the overall conceptual forms of the park design. The plant list was developed with maintenance in mind and plant selections were closely coordinated by city and recreation and parks staff. A perimeter park buffer and earthen berm was heavily planted to provide privacy for surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Team:
Alley William Carmen & King -Civil Engineer
- Design, materials selection, and grading of all vehicular areas. Utility infrastructure design for the entire park.
Alley William Carmen & King - Architect
- Design of park pavilion structure and maintenance buildings
Surface 678, PA - Landscape Architect
- Design, materials selection, grading, and planting for pedestrian and athletic field areas.
Sole Source Engineering - MEP
- Electrical, mechanical, and plumbing design for the park pavilion structure and site.

As seen in LASN magazine, March 2021.

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