Historic Fourth Ward Park – Phase I – 2020 ULI Urban Open Space Awards Finalist

The design of the pond below the water table allows for a constant inflow of water with holes in the outlet structure so water can flow out, allowing generated water to be used as irrigation for the outlying park’s lawns and playing fields while simultaneously addressing the groundwater issue. Photo Credit: Steve Carrell

Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Owners: Atlanta BeltLine; City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management; City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation
Designer: HDR
Site Size:
5 acres (2 hectares)
Number of People Served (within a half-mile): 5,813
Opened: June 1, 2010
Website: https://beltline.org/places-to-go/historic-fourth-ward-park/






Since its opening in 2011, Historic Fourth Ward Park draws hundreds of visitors a day. The stormwater park today is surrounded by redevelopment and revitalization, including a mix of residential, commercial, and office space that did not exist prior to its construction. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Atlanta BeltLine
This south plaza channel artfully collects and conveys storm runoff to the lake through an ephemeral drainage feature. Thoughtfully designed elements like this tie the site to its past, reminding residents of the creek that once carried water through this long-neglected site. Photo Credit: Keith Philpott
















On a site described by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as “a barren expanse of cracked concrete, weeds and towering trees surviving against a background of neglect,” a five-acre parcel within Atlanta’s Historic Fourth Ward has been dramatically transformed. A stunning new park grew from the need to address the very unglamorous problem of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) within the Clear Creek watershed. The idea was inspired by the neighborhood residents. Rather than adding costly, traditional sewer tunnels, the blighted industrial lowland was reimagined into a sustainable green space surrounding a functional stormwater retention pond. The pond is the centerpiece of the new park, which includes walking trails, urban plazas, native plants, and an amphitheater. Design details and sculptural elements disguise engineering solutions by “celebrating” water as it enters the site from each direction. By blending innovative engineering with beautiful and inviting landscape architecture within a public open space, this park is a stunning example of using ingenuity to resolve stormwater issues while enhancing community life. Historic Fourth Ward Park has been a harbinger for development and revitalization, providing the cornerstone for a sustainable, high-density and high-quality urban transformation along with an outstanding design solution for a serious CSO problem.

Stormwater from the north end of the watershed enters the pond through a channel beneath a sculptural fountain. This water is then recirculated through stones of the feature to assist in the aeration process. Photo Credit: Keith Philpott
Historic Fourth Ward Park is an example of a sustainable design solution for a serious environmental problem that can trigger broader high-quality urban transformations within a community. Photo Credit: Steve Carrell

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