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McEuen Park: Redevelopment on a Grand Scale
Landscape Architecture by Bernardo|Wills Architects, PC, Spokane, Wash.
By Michael Miyamoto, LASN


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These days, McEuen Park in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, looks nothing like what it did when it as known as McEuen Playfield, which was developed as a city park in the late 1950s. It had two softball fields and a baseball diamond used by the local American Legion, and other amenities. About four acres of what was then an 18.5-acre park were used for parking to serve Tubbs Hill, a large natural park south of and adjacent to McEuen Playfield and a boat launch. But recently the site was enlarged and redeveloped on a grand scale. Bernardo|Wills Architects, of Spokane, Wash., was hired by the city of Coeur d'Alene to be the lead landscape architecture firm, and Dell Hatch, ASLA, was the lead landscape architect. This photo is a recent aerial view, taken from the southwest. Tubbs Hill is to the left, the Waterfront Promenade is at the top of the image, and downtown Coeur d'Alene surrounds most of the park.
Photo: Dean Davis, photographer


To the casual observer, the dedication of McEuen Park in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on May 24, 2014 might not seem all that important, even though more than 1,000 people were there to witness it.

But this case might be a little different, if nothing else, because of the sheer size of the park -- 22.5 acres -- and the magnitude of the amenities Bernardo|Wills, the lead landscape architecture firm, designed and built into the project.

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Children's playground: the 5-12 year old play structure is called KidBuilders. There is also musical equipment in this playground, spinning accessories called Spica and Blazer, and synthetic and engineered wood fiber surfaces.
Photo: Joe Nuess, photographer



New features at McEuen Park included the Front Avenue-4th Street Promenade, an amphitheater, a Grand Plaza, an interactive playground and splash pad, a Waterfront Promenade, a Veterans Memorial, tennis and basketball courts, and a Donor Wall. There is also a covered parking facility, public art displays, a dog park and scenic paved trails at McEuen Park. The landscape architects also incorporated a new irrigation system, site furnishings and an extensive array of plants, trees and other greenery into the site.

In the way of background, Mullen Field was home to a lumber mill, military housing during World War II and the Kootenai County Fairgrounds. Other amenities included three tennis courts, a small children's play area, and a small paved surface for basketball.

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This sculpture was designed and constructed by artist Howard Meehan and sits at the main entrance to the park at Front Avenue and 4th Street. It is named "Under the Rainbow" because its tension cables are highlighted with multiple, changing LED lighting during the evening hours. The support arms for the arch are structural steel, powder-coated bright white, and the tension wires that form the 'arch' are stainless steel. The support arms house the LED lighting controls as well as speakers for music. Meehan lives and works in Santa Fe, N.M. His submittal was selected from a pool of over 90 artists. It is also visible from Sherman Avenue, and the heart of downtown Coeur d'Alene.
Photo: Dean Davis, photographer



McEuen Playfield was developed as a city park in the late 1950s. It had two softball fields and a baseball diamond used by the local American Legion, and other amenities. About four acres of the then 18.5-acre park were used for parking to serve Tubbs Hill, a large natural park south of and adjacent to McEuen Playfield. The parking lot also served downtown Coeur D'Alene and a public boat launch on the fringe of Lake Coeur d'Alene.

"Recommendations for significant changes to McEuen Park were first suggested in 1997 through a citywide economic enhancement strategy," said Dell Hatch, ASLA, of Bernardo|Wills, who headed the design team for the firm.

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Water Odyssey manufactured the children's splash pad. The Water Fence and Triple Wipple Aqua Sprayer are in the foreground, while the sails from the Dumpin' Buccaneer can be seen in the background.
Photo: Joe Nuess, photographer



"Also in 1997, the city of Coeur d'Alene established an Urban Renewal Agency (URA) that stated the redevelopment of McEuen Field was one of its three top priorities," Hatch said.

In 1999, the city sponsored a Downtown Public Places Master Plan that focused on redevelopment options for McEuen. Another master plan followed in 2002, this one developed by a committee comprised of citizens and professionals.

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Park, from left, the Front Avenue-4th Street Promenade, the pedestrian bridge over the surface parking, the Centennial Trail, Donor Wall and Grand Staircase.
Photo: Dean Davis, photographer



In 2010, with funding assistance from the URA, the vision for the McEuen Park redevelopment project began to take shape. The city hired Bernardo|Wills, Welch Comer Engineers, and Miller Stauffer Architects to prepare yet another master plan and construction documents. Then the McEuen redevelopment program was implemented in 2012-2013.

A 21-person steering committee was formed and worked alongside the design team, and together they developed a dynamic master plan, one that would allow the park to evolve into a destination site.

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The splash pad features the "Dumpin' Buccaneer" and "Triple Wipple" (middle of the photo), and "Bear In A Tree" and "Rocky Rain" (in the background). Plants in the foreground include Somerset Hair Grass (Koeleria vallesiana); Compact Oregon Grape Holly (Mahonia aquifolium 'Compacta'); and Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium).
Photo: Joe Nuess, photographer



The revamped park should have "compelling and memorable features that serve the greatest number of uses for the greatest number of people," part of the mission statement for McEuen Park said. Moreover, the layout and amenities should be attractive to people of all ages and abilities, stimulate the local economy, support regional events, and recognize the legacy of the former McEuen Field.

Bernardo|Wills Architects' role included development of the park master plan and facilitation of the public participation process. "It was lead design consultant for the park planning and landscape architecture efforts, design and construction documents for all landscape and planting plans, hardscape plans, irrigation and site amenities, bid phase services for multiple bid packages, and construction administration," Hatch said. "Site furnishings and other amenities were carefully chosen to accommodate the park's multiple uses and were strategically placed so there were unobstructed views of the magnificent natural surroundings."

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The Veterans Memorial features five flags and plaques representing the active branches of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard), along with a POW-MIA flag. Crimpoizan (prunus cerasifera), or cherry plum, trees surround this venue. Forms + Surfaces manufactured the Pacifica benches that are shown in the foreground.
Photo: Dean Davis, photographer



A key to the success of the design was expanding the park by approximately three acres. This was accomplished by reclaiming the space previously dedicated to surface parking by the former McEuen Playfield.

To make up for the loss of this parking area, some 50,000 cubic yards of soil was excavated and four blocks of Front Avenue were reconstructed to create a "street deck." Underneath this deck were created enough parking spaces for 220 vehicles and 20 boat trailers.

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Paver accents are a common hardscape element throughout McEuen Park. The burgundy herringbone paver fields are bordered by medium iron spot pavers in a soldier course pattern.
Photo: Joe Nuess, photographer



Doing this also allowed the Front Avenue-4th Street Promenade to be built at street level. This Promenade features public art, lighting, seating areas and green roofs. At the same time, traditional sidewalk widths and public activity space were expanded up to 26 feet.

The Front Avenue-4th Street Promenade also enhanced the physical connection to the downtown district. A 60-foot-wide bridge comprises the deck over the parking area and is the primary pedestrian route into and out of McEuen Park. The entryway is highlighted by the "Rainbow Arch," one of three major pieces of public art in the park.

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The basketball courts have WAUSAU Tile, Inc., basketball goals, a safety surface, outdoor mister and a free-standing drinking fountain.
Photo: Joe Nuess, photographer



On the east side sits the Grand Plaza, which features open spaces for gatherings, festivals and community events. Within the Grand Plaza is a waterfront walkway that connects McEuen Park to spectacular Lake Coeur d'Alene.

The Harbor House, which sits near the Tubbs Hill trailhead and is on the water's edge, features rooms to take in views of Lake Coeur d'Alene, concession booths, seating and year-round restrooms. In the center of the park is a natural grass amphitheater that seats over 3,000 people and is available for concerts and other special events. This open area is also used for free play and pick-up games of soccer, touch football and the like.

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Bike Garden bike racks can be found at various places throughout McEuen Park. Plantings include Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis X acutiflora); Snowmound Spirea (Spirea nipponica) shrubs; and Chanticleer Pear (Pyrus calleryana) trees.
Photo: Dean Davis, photographer



A pavilion for large group gatherings is adjacent to a playground and splash pad. Tennis, pickle ball and basketball courts are located east and south of the playground. A pocket dog park sits at the base of Tubbs Hill and is near an open area reserved for a skate park. A 48,000-gallon reservoir below the Harbor House stores water captured from the splash pad and is used for the park's irrigation of 168 trees, 3,600 shrubs and ground cover, and 12 acres of turf.

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The Harbor House acts as a focal element to the Grand Plaza, and overlooks the lake, boat launch and moorage docks at Lake Coeur d'Alene. It houses concessions, and restrooms with year-round access, and also has seating and lakeside dining. The building also houses mechanical equipment for the site's electrical network, and the pumping system for the entire park irrigation system. Water is drawn from the lake and stored in a 46,000-gallon tank below the building, where submersible pumps distribute the irrigation water throughout the park during the evening hours. Potable water from the splash pad is also captured and piped to the holding tank and is reused to augment the irrigation.
Photo: Dean Davis, photographer



Part of the Centennial Trail -- a 26-mile long regional, multi-modal pathway -- was integrated into the site and runs the length of McEuen Park. This supplements other walking-running trails and paths in the park.

This part of the Centennial Trail had to be re-routed into McEuen Park, and required coordination with the State Parks and Recreation Department and other state and local agencies. All trails in McEuen Park were built to Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

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An aerial view of the splash pad. Davis Colors supplied the colored concrete and sand play area. Water Odyssey manufactured the splash pad equipment.
Photo: Dean Davis, photographer



Project Team
McEuen Park, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
City of Coeur d'Alene, owner

Designers
Bernardo|Wills Architects, Spokane, Wash.
Dell Hatch, ASLA, lead landscape architect
Bill LaRue, ASLA, landscape architect
Welch Comer Engineers | Surveyors, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Miller Stauffer Architects, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

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Plants in the foreground are Mops pine (Pinus mugo 'Mops'); and Abbotswood Potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa 'Abbotswood') shrubs.
Photo: Joe Nuess, photographer



Vendor List
Landscape Structures made the 2-5 year old play structure called Playshaper and the benches in the playground.
Water Odyssey manufactured the children's splash pad equipment.
Forms+Surfaces manufactured the Pacifica benches in the Veterans Memorial.
It also supplied the Bike Garden bike racks throughout McEuen Park.
Davis Colors supplied the colored concrete and sand play area for the splash pad.

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"Allium Spring Chorus" was designed and constructed by artist David Tonnesen, who lives and works in Somerville, Mass. His sculpture submittal was selected from over 100 entries and is commonly cited as the 'favorite' art piece in the park. It is unique in that each 'blossom' shifts and rotates with the slightest breeze, and the reflective nature of the stainless steel catches the surrounding landscape, suggesting a constant change of color and movement. It was placed at the Third Street entrance on Front Avenue, and is a replica of the allium plant, a wild onion that is native to Idaho. The three flower heads have hundreds of metal stars that catch and reflect light from six LED lights shining gold and purple. It has 2,800 separate pieces in all and took six months to create, at a cost of $110,000.
Photo: Dean Davis, photographer







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