Kansas Recreation & Park Association - KRPA Today Magazine, Summer 2019

18 Kansas Recreation and Park • www.krpa.org Research the history and culture of the area. To connect the people to the place, elements of ancient Aztec culture were integrated into the design of Wichita’s Evergreen splashpad. Early in the schematic design phase of the project, neighborhood representatives provided input that local residents would appreciate a playground themed around Aztec and Mesoamerican culture. Moving forward, the design team has envisioned a water playground designed to resemble a hidden ruin site nestled within Evergreen Park. The ground plane and primary wet and dry play features are inspired by Aztec iconography and craft. Recognize the uniqueness of the site and use it to your advantage (i.e. existing trees, grade change, solar orientation, etc.) Chisholm Creek once flowed through the middle of present-day, Linwood Park. The design of this splashpad was inspired by those long bygone uninhibited creeks and settlers’ early attempts to harness their power. The new design not only draws on the past, but capitalizes on the present. It incorporates existing shade trees and preserves a fabric shade structure. It also retains the fence and bathhouse structure that were once a part of the pool. Across the state, many parks and recreation departments are faced with antiquated pools in need of repair. What was built no longer matches current trends in pool design or residents’ needs. Swimmers expect amenities, like shade, activities for all ages, access to food, and both wet and dry play areas. With expensive upkeep, staffing shortages and low attendance, renovating these spaces doesn’t always make sense. Parks departments are under pressure to recover their costs, and pools rarely bring in enough to cover operational expenses. Some Kansas communities, like Wichita, have landed on a solution that delivers for residents and requires less maintenance. They are transforming unused, out-of-date pools into splashpads. In looking at their pools, Troy Houtman, parks and recreation director and Brian Hill, aquatics director determined many were in need of repairs and largely unused. They wanted to add play value and provide places to cool off in a new way for Wichita residents. Working with Waters Edge, they asked Landworks Studio to help turn six public pools into splashpads, each with its own identity. The City of Wichita’s Parks and Recreation staff, as well as the design team, had extensive community meetings to ensure appropriate designs were developed. Each unique design was created to reflect the surrounding community and leave a lasting impression on visitors. The goal was to showcase a place and culture, instilling a sense of pride. They all incorporate dry and wet play value to encourage longer, year-round play. As splashpads grow in popularity across the state, creating a distinct sense of place and a unique experience is critical to activating a new park element. These six tried and true strategies can ensure each one is a destination all its own. Design Strategies to Ensure Your Splashpad is an In-Demand Destination By Shannon Gordon, PLA, Landworks Studio