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Rebirth of Atlanta's Daniel Stanton Park

Landscape Architecture by Pond and Company, Atlanta

The revival of Daniel H. Stanton Park in Atlanta began when a young girl was burned while sliding on the playground. Turns out the playground was built atop a landfill. Methane gas seeping from the ground was ignited by the static electricity generated by her slide. This view of the park shelter (pergola) and playground also shows the two different LED light fixture styles, the 'Roadstar' (left) and the 'Leonis', both from Philips Lumec. A 'Redwood Crawl' "log" and 'Majestic Mountain' rock climber (lower right) are among the crawling/climbing features.
Photo: Matthew Wilder

Until 1999, Daniel H. Stanton Park served the Peoplestown neighborhood of Atlanta with a playground, ball field and recreation center; however, it was discovered in 1999 that the park was constructed atop a former landfill. This disconcerting discovery was revealed, unfortunately, when a young girl sliding on the playground was burned when methane gas seeping up from the ground was ignited by the static electricity generated by her slide. The park was immediately closed, razed and the remnants of the landfill removed.

A two-phase remediation of the soil ensued. The expense of the park remediation, however, left no funds to rebuild the park. After several years, the community was able to raise enough funds to install a small play space in the middle of the now seven-acre eroded field. D.H. Stanton Park had been reduced to a 50-foot play area with no shade to mitigate the hot, southern sun. This had to "meet the needs" of neighborhood children. In 2009, a multimillion-dollar effort got underway to completely redevelop the park. What has emerged is a premier park for Atlanta, bringing new life to the land and surrounding community. The old playground has been replaced, a splashpad installed and a pavilion constructed, thanks to a grant from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. The foundation's grant also funded the construction of a Little League baseball and multipurpose fields.

The park's central promenade is illuminated by 47 'Leonis' LEDs (Philips Lumec). The LEDs use about 20-30 percent less energy than conventional HID fixtures, according to the manufacturer.
Photo: Matthew Wilder

Atlanta BeltLine
The Stanton Park renovation was also made possible through the Atlanta BeltLine, an idea conceived in the 1999 master's thesis of Georgia Tech student Ryan Gravel. Atlanta BeltLine proclaims itself "the most comprehensive revitalization effort ever undertaken by Atlanta" (well, at least since the Civil War), and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment and mobility projects underway in the U.S. This sustainable project is providing a network of public parks, multiuse trails and transit by reusing 22-miles of historic railroad corridors that encircle the downtown. The completion of the Atlanta BeltLine will help unite 45 neighborhoods through rail, trail, greenspace, housing and art.

Stanton Park is immediately adjacent to the Atlanta BeltLine corridor, with more than 700 linear feet of shared boundary along the southern edge of the park. City of Atlanta park bonds, coupled with the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation grant, has made the new park a reality.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (center) walks beneath the impressive 22-killowatt array of 88 monocrystalline photovoltaic solar panels (Suniva) during Stanton Park's grand opening. Stanton is the first Atlanta park to install a solar canopy to offset operational electrical costs. The solar array generates enough electricity to power 10 homes.
Photo: Christopher Martin

As with any commercial project this was a multidisciplinary team effort: architect, landscape architect, contractor, engineers (civil, electrical, structural) and specialty interactive fountain designers. The landscape architecture firm was Pond and Company of Atlanta, the lead designer and project team lead from design development through construction documents, permitting and construction. The charge given to the design team by Atlanta BeltLine and the Peoplestown community was to redevelop the park in the underserved community, and to do so in a manner that would set the park apart from others in Atlanta.

The park design needed to be environmentally conscious and sustainable. The vision for Stanton Park was guided by meeting the recreation, social and community health needs. The city needed a park that would endure and be economical to maintain. Pond and Company landscape architect's philosophy and approach is always to design and plan for the finished project to function at the highest achievable level of self-sufficiency, with a goal of long-term sustainability. To be truly sustainable the park had to reduce demand and impact on natural resources.

The Stanton Park program included a new playground, greatly expanded from the old one to include traditional swings, climbers, slides, bouncers, and spinners, but also adding musical instruments and a tactile landscape in which children can climb on boulders, roll down a grassy hill and play among the different textures of the planted landscape.

The new, larger playground blends traditional safety-surface based structured environments with the natural landscape to broaden the children's experiences and imaginations. The park program also included a custom designed picnic shelter, a splashpad with bathhouse and pergola, a little league baseball field, and an open field for passive use or active play. The young girl who was burned when sliding is now a college student. She was among the participants in the park's rededication festivities, including the official opening of the splashpad.

On-site storm water management is achieved via low-impact development techniques with grassed swales and small detention areas that blend into the landscape; most visitors to the park won't even realize the LID facilities exist.

The splashpad play equipment (Waterplay) includes the Rainbow spryer, Mist Stick, Captivator, The Wave, Carronade, Solo Spurt, Tulip and Pop-it. A bathhouse, pergola and LED light fixtures ('Roadstar' from Philips Lumec) are added amenities. The tall centerpiece is a stainless steel kinetic sculpture by artist Robert Witherspoon.
Day shot: Christopher Martin
Night shot: Matthew Wilder

Green Power Program
The park is part of Georgia Power's alternative green power program. Stanton Park is the first Atlanta park to install a photovoltaic solar canopy to offset operational electrical costs.

The solar canopy is a 120-foot long structure topped with a 22-killowatt array of Suniva photovoltaic panels. The solar array generates enough electricity to power 10 homes. The power produced is sold to Georgia Power for about 18 cents per kilowatt. When the park needs electrical power for the lights and other energy needs, it can purchase energy off Georgia Power's grid for only 8.5 cents per kilowatt. The panels also create shade on the park's central promenade. Taking the energy savings a step further, the entire park is lit with LEDs that greatly reduce electrical energy and cuts the park's lighting bill in half.

Three KorKat shade sails cast shade over the musical instruments area at the top of the landscaped mound. Kids and adults enjoy making melodies on the two pentatonic marimbas (eight tones) from Sound Play, and tap out some rhythms on the 33 drum tubes (6-12 inch dia.) from Freenotes. The marimba tone bars are ipe and have PVC resonators painted a bright red. The marimbas come with four attached mallets. This elevated area of the park also has three telescopes (GameTime).
Photo: Kelly Holtz

In addition to the energy conscious design, Stanton Park is also part of a pilot program for organic land care and maintenance practices. The landscape architect worked with the client to include specifications for soil testing and soil amendments to meet the standards for organic land care and support the Atlanta BeltLine's sustainability guidelines. The landscape architect, also at the client's request, include in the specifications a two-year maintenance schedule performed by the contractor to establish and maintain the organic land care program after completion of construction.

The first safety surfacing product installed on the playground "failed" on the little hills. The hill surfacing had to be replaced with another product.
Photo: Christopher T. Martin

The Atlanta BeltLine
The Atlanta BeltLine is transforming the city with a combination of rail, trail, greenspace, housing and art.
The key elements that will be developed over the life of the Atlanta BeltLine project include:
o 22 miles of pedestrian friendly rail transit
o 33 miles of multi-use trails
o 1,300 acres of parks
o 5,600 units of affordable housing
o 1,100 acres of brownfields remediated
o Public art
o Historic preservation

Columnar hornbeams follow a spiral walk to the top of the landscaped mound. Fluffy, buff-colored blooms of 'Little Bunny' fountaingrass and rows of Prairie Dropseed flank the path.

Daniel H. Stanton Park Team
Atlanta Beltline
Partner client:
City of Atlanta Department of Parks Recreation and Cultural Affairs
Prime Consultant & Landscape Architect:
Pond & Company, Atlanta
Richard Wittschiebe Hand, Atlanta
Civil Engineer:
Long Engineering, Atlanta
Electrical / Lighting Engineer:
Womack & Associates Consulting Engineers, Atlanta
Irrigation Consultant Services, Conyers, Ga.
Fountain Design:
Aqua Design Systems, Fayetteville, Ga.
General Contractor:
Reeves Contracting Company, Sugar Hill, Ga.
Solar Power:
Hannah Solar, Atlanta

The solar canopy stretches 120-foot long. The power produced is sold to Georgia Power for about 18 cents per kilowatt. When the park needs electrical power, it purchases energy from the Georgia Power grid for only 8.5 cents per kilowatt. The panels serve the dual purpose of creating shade on the park's central promenade.
Photo: Kelly Holtz

Vendor List
Columbia Cascade: bike racks
Concrete Classics: game tables
Dynamo Industries: Naturescape playground equipment
Freenotes Harmony Park: musical instruments
GameTime: playground equipment, baseball dugouts
Hunter: irrigation components
KorKat: shade sails
Murdock-Super Secure: drinking fountains
On Deck Sports: baseball foul poles
Pavestone: concrete pavers
Philips Lumec: LED lighting
Plastic Recycling of Iowa: picnic tables
Rainbird: irrigation components
RJ Thomas Mfg.: park grills
Sound Play: musical instruments
Stephens Pipe and Steel: chain link fence.
Suniva: high efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells
Victor Stanley: trash/recycling receptacles, tables
Waterplay: aquatic playground equipment

The sprayground pergola is also lit by 'Leonis' LED fixtures (Philips Lumec), and includes Victor Stanley tables and trash receptacles. The Game Time and Dynamo Industries play equipment is seen in the background.
Photo: Matthew Wilder

One-hundred twenty five custom-made hoop tunnels, painted matte blue, wrap around the bathhouse, sprayground and playground.
Photo: Kelly Holtz

Columnar hornbeams follow a spiral walk to the top of the mound, which is the musical play area. Sweeps of purple love grass, switchgrass and fountaingrass decorate the hillock. The play elements are the 'GT Xcelerator' (left), the 'Tilted Sky Runner' (right), both from GameTime, and nine 'Stump Jumps' (Dynamo Industries) in the foreground.
Photo: Matthew Wilder

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November 13, 2019, 7:26 pm PDT

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