Powhatan Springs Park was designed with a highly collaborative team including an architect, sculptor, skate park designer, and a professional skateboarder. Conceptually, the collaborative design effort was aimed at seamlessly integrating each element—including art—in the overall park design. The resulting design was one where art is not a definable piece, but a creation in concert with the different systems, patterns, layout, and uses of the park. Several design team charettes helped blur the boundaries of each discipline and to push the convention of each designer’s given responsibility.
The overall concept for the park was the management of stormwater entirely on-site and the expression of this in a tangible, visual way. In lieu of underground storm drainage pipes, the flow of water down through the park is exposed through a series of v-ditches, concrete half-pipes, steel channels, and cisterns. Where physically impossible to expose certain drainage, pipes are exposed at the confluence of all of the stormwater—the bio-retention rain garden. The rain garden, given the fundamental elements of incidental play—water, plants, rocks, sand, and an element of danger—doubles as a children’s interactive nature area. Stormwater is filtered and collected in an underground storage tank, where children and curious adults may pump the stored water out through a network of concrete half-pipes down to return the water to the on-site stream. This children’s’ ‘play space’, and subtly educational tool, begins to bring awareness to the natural systems and the cyclical nature of things that surround us.