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When Parks, Transportation and Water Collide

Sometimes small towns are the communities pushing the envelope on innovation.

What happens when you take a regular traffic circle, cover it with a lawn, add some trees for shade and then a fountain for kicks?  Well, in Normal, Illinois they did just that as a means for reducing downtown congestion in this college town.

Credit: Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects

But the true innovation comes from the sustainable infrastructure used to create the traffic roundabout.  Apparently the water in the public fountain is actually cleansed and re-circulated stormwater from five main streets leading to the traffic circle.  Although not safe for drinking, it is perfectly fine for toe-dipping as these kids would gladly testify.  And as soon as those London plane trees grow a little more fuller, I imagine this will be a relaxing place for a good book or a picnic.

Credit: Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects

We’ve posted before about how parks can be great green places, regardless of size.  Washington D.C.’s Dupont Circle is a nice example of a vibrant urban park that is heavily used in the midst of a busy downtown.

The new Circle in Normal is only one component of the city’s plans for redevelopment of the downtown area.  As the residents of Normal find increasing popularity in their new park, perhaps now is a good reminder of the five characteristics of Great Green Places:

  • Landscape: a place that is successful uniting site planning and landscape design;
  • Mixed Use: a place that demonstrates a variety of retail, housing, and commercial uses;
  • Sense of Place: a place that physically embraces its history and culture;
  • Streetscape: a place that is pedestrian-friendly with activated public spaces; and
  • Transit Options: a place that encourages and supports multiple forms of transportation including subway, bus, and biking.

It’s only when looking at sustainability from a holistic view, can we truly see the transformation in a community.

For more pictures and technical details regarding the Circle in Uptown Normal, visit the Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects website.

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4 Responses

  1. Thank you for featuring this project. It is an incredibly creative way to manage and to re-use stormwater runoff and certainly applicable to many cities — small and big.

  2. Gee…..do you think one of those kids might actually drink some of the water? the designers and the city are inviting lawsuits by not treating the water since it is in effect an interactive fountain.

  3. [...] written before about how the town’s new traffic circle has successfully managed traffic flow at a busy [...]

  4. [...] is the recipient of the award in the Civic Places category for their traffic roundabout.We’ve written before about how the town’s new traffic circle has successfully managed traffic flow at a busy five-way [...]

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