You are on page 1of 3

C U R R E N T S : A V I S I O N F O R R I V E R PA R K

R I V E R PA R K , W E S T L E B A N O N , N H

“Currents” is inspired by the power and possibilities of the Connecticut River and its interaction with the land
and its people. The dynamic nature of the changing flows of the river, its influence on topography, vegetation
and cultural use - past, present and future - provide the poetic stimulus for the concept. Taking direction from
the power, beauty and shape of the site, the project aims to enhance what is there, make connections to the
region and catalyze what could be. The river and water in their many different forms and characters, are the
thread that ties the site together. The project is organized into three areas: the River Park, the upland Village
Green, and the Woodland Ecotone Connector.
River Park is most directly connected to the river – its form and uses inspired by the flowing geometry of the
river and the site of the original lower falls.
Splash: Historically, the river was rocky and boulder filled with substantial changes in elevation – too wild to engage
directly, but powerfully characteristic of this reach of the natural unregulated river. The goal of River Park is to enjoy the
river in its many natures in a safe and inviting manner. Currents makes the original pools and boulders accessible, by
providing a gentler version of a rocky stream. Water is drawn from the river and pumped up to the lower terrace by run
of the river power, to create a gently moving stream that skims over layers of rock, warming in the sun and giving multiple opportunities to splash, play, wade and relax. Water then returns back through a rocky runnel, splashing over stone
steps into the river below.
Swim: More active engagement with the Connecticut River is provided in a protected area that captures and frames a
portion of the river. This area may either be left as a floating dock or enclose an active swimming hole. The depth and
flow will vary depending on that of the river and can be protected from the main current by a mesh.
Paddle: On the southern edge of the point, a wide path snakes down to a kayak and canoe launch in the quiet channel
between the shore and the adjacent island, allowing easy access to river paddling. The dock’s generous length and quiet
surrounds make it an ideal place to enjoy the beauty of the river and islands.
Move: Curving pathways link the site internally and connect along the shore to the broader regional pathway networks.
Some are hard surfaced for bicycles, and provide universal access, while others are narrower and paved with fine granular stone for a more intimate connection on foot. In places the paths become boardwalks over or down to the water’s
edge. During winter, selected pathways can be groomed as cross country ski paths.
Enjoy: The area immediately adjacent to the point is proposed as a simple, lawn with grades slightly enhanced to create
a flat area and a gentle surrounding berm. Here, one can sit in the sun and enjoy the landscape and view. It is a place for
picnics, playing and lounging, and also a place for larger gatherings or small performances.

The Uplands are more directly connected to the building complex and include the Village Green, the Promenade, the Water Plaza, and the Event Deck.
Village Green/ Village Blue: The Village Green is imagined as a focal point of the building cluster, a flexible amenity and
a launching point from which to explore the site. It is a simple lawn with shade trees and a grove of lilacs (New Hampshire’s state flower) edged by wide curving stone terraces that introduce the materials and geometry of the rock river
below. With water as the central theme of the project, the Village Green is also the Village Blue, containing a reflecting
pool that is part of the storm water holding system. In the summer water lilies and native reeds animate the water, while
in the winter, the shallow pond transforms into a central skating area. Two steps up from the lawn – a shade trellis with
community scale tables provides places for lunches, and social, or informal collaboration and work meetings. The space
is purposefully flexible, allowing for a variety of programmed and spontaneous activities throughout the year including
craft fairs, farmers’ markets, music performances, Christmas events and even food trucks.
Promenade / River Overlook: The Promenade originates in the Village Green and leads to the River Overlook. Here the
ground slips beneath the elevated overlook, placing one within the tree canopy and revealing a spectacular view of the
park, river and activity areas below. The structure of the promenade blurs with the existing trees by being constructed
from pine posts felled from the site for the building construction. Running along the spine within a forest of newly planted pines and protruding posts are gathering nooks with outdoor tables, hammocks, a bocce court, and stone slab seating
areas. The paving pattern is also related to the timbers, inspired by historical log drives floating down the river. When
raining a carefully regulated small flow of water runs down the edge of the promenade ending with a waterfall into a
rock filled infiltration area below.
Entry Plaza, Water Feature, and Signage: The entry plaza begins the experience of the development, and introduces
the landscape character within the site. The Water Feature is a linear “river” giving the impression that the bridge of the
building is floating on water.

C U R R E N T S : A V I S I O N F O R R I V E R PA R K

In dry weather the water is a still reflecting pool, but during storm events, water erupts out of submerged jets, energized
by the head of runoff water off the elevated roofs. A table-topped plaza connects the water feature to the building’s
outdoor dining, tying the building and water closer together. Large letters identifying the park sit within the water plaza.
Event Deck Belvedere: The Event Deck Belvedere is a simple, large animated area with outstanding prospects of the
river and landscape below. A flexible place for wedding dances, fireworks observation, family reunions, office luncheons
and less programmed activities, it carries the geometry of the uplands out and over the park.
Openings within the deck allow the trees to protrude, providing a sense of floating within the canopy.

The Woodland Ecotone provides a mediating and transition zone between the Uplands and the River Park.
While activated by carefully placed activity areas, the woodland will be ecologically enhanced through restorative plantings of native plant communities. This area contains the Woodland Walk, Forest Slides and Remediation Cascades.
Woodland Walk: Much of the forest buffer is left as woodland, its understory planting restored to a native palette. Within this slopping forested buffer, carefully placed, narrow bark mulch paths make connections to the park below and allow
for a less choreographed and intimate woodland experience of nature.
Forest Slides: Safely hugging the topography of the slope, and winding through the shadow of the trees, are slides that
take advantage of the 30 to 50 foot grade difference and allow for a fast (and fun) track to the lower level.
Remediation Cascades: The existing ravine will be a place of beauty, ecology and revitalization, acting as a remediation
strategy for the village green reservoir and surface runoff. A series of check dams with plant species that thrive on the
runoff from the developed areas of the site, will create a cascade of vegetated retention and sediment removal bays that
cleanse water on its path to the river. A pathway on the edge of the cascades will allow for enjoyment of the area and
understanding of storm water management.

Water Systems. Working closely with the storm water engineers, the approach to the water system will be one
of Low Impact Development (LID) combined with an artistic and ecological expression of water on the site.
Recognizing the need to fit the landscape to the hydrology and topography of the site, the combined strategies of protection, collection, infiltration and treatment are incorporated into the water system. The story of water starts at the Linear
Water Plaza at the entry to the site, where the “river” pool is charged by storm water from the building roofs, erupting
in vertical jets during storm events and then flowing to reflecting pools in the Village Green / Village Blue. Rain water
collected off the roofs and other hard surfaces is directed to subsurface storage and treatment cisterns and potential
roadside swales. Supplied from the cisterns, the reflecting pools of the Green provide limited sediment settlement and
treatment as well as reuse of storm water for irrigation purposes. Water from the cisterns and the reflecting pools will
be directed to the pools and habitats of the Remediation Cascades described earlier as well as to the Promenade Stream
that is activated only during storm events and falls into infiltration areas below. Permeable pavement will also be used to
aid in water infiltration.
The storm water management of the site is complemented by recreational use of water in park areas and enhancement
of riparian vegetation adjacent to the river. Untreated water from the river will be pumped by run of the river power to
the splash areas and then returned to the river. Throughout the landscape, the narrative of wise stewardship of water
resources will be expressed in design and management interventions. To further this message, a wireless WIFI canopy
covering the entire site will allow for interpretation and educational messages to be provided and updated periodically at
key locations.

Phasing. We suggest that the landscape be constructed in 5 phases:

Phase Phase
1 Green,
25: Promenade
Phase 1: Lot 1, Phase 2: River Park and Remediation Cascade, Phase 3: Village
Phase 4: Event Deck,

hase 1Phase 1

Phase 2Phase 2Phase 2

Phase 3Phase 3Phase 3

Phase Phase

C U R R E N T S : A V I S I O N F O R R I V E R PA R K

Phase Phase