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Terrific fanfare and civic enthusiasm fueled the opening of the first two phases of the long-awaited Headwaters Park in the City of Fort Wayne, Indiana. As the originators of the conception, planning and creation of the park, the design team at Eric R. Kuhne & Associates (ERK&A) has been working on this city park since the mid-seventies, following through with all of the original research, conceptual development, design options, promotion, and leadership. After twenty years of planning and design-- staff members at ERK&A are, "needless to say... in a bit of disbelief that, after all these years, it's finally happening." An impassioned civic leader, 1974 Mayor Ivan Lebamoff, was the first to request that ERK&A consider the rivers as part of his downtown revitalization plan; his "Populist Philosophy, Faith and Hope" is now imbedded into the landscape of Headwaters Park. This park not only tells a story about its city, but it also represents just about every struggling town in the world. It is about how an entire community decides to build a legacy of its own hopes for their children-- in this case, the very children who filled the sandbags, built the levees and saved the city from the second and third worst floods in the city's history. As Eric R. Kuhne remarks, "The greatest testimony to any civilization [lies] in its ability to restore the landscape and culture it displaced. Headwaters does just this, like no other singular act in Fort Wayne's history." ERK&A did the research to determine that there were, in fact, ideas about the park which went back over a hundred years. This research revealed references from George Washington's military surveyors who first recorded the landscape, to George Kessler's 1913 plan to expand the park and river drives. ERK&A conceptualized the name, "Headwaters Park," identifying the more than 200 acres at the confluence of the St. Joe and St. Mary's River- forming the Headwater of the Maumee River, which flows east toward Toledo, Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence River. The original five goals for ERK&A's design exist to this day as the founding principles of Headwaters Park: return the floodway back to St. Mary's River; base all design, research and planning around historical re-creation of the landscape; produce educational linkage to the Old Fort and creation of a Museum of Industrial and Mercantile Arts (now Science Central) and a Wetlands Ecology Center; provide access to the water's edge, recreational boating and fishing; create a green centerpiece which would spur economic development and add to the attractiveness of Fort Wayne as a place to invest in business and family; and finally, become a centerpiece for cultural activities in Fort Wayne. The message inlaid into the walkways reveals the watery heritage of Headwaters Park: "River of Life... River of Opportunity... River of Mystery." ERK&A developed the design for the landscape, the architecture and the civic arts, with the very clear intention of re-integrating the arts into Headwaters Park. To accomplish this, a number of consultants were brought in as advisors. Landscape Architect Kevin McCrory, ASLA, of McCrory and Associates joined the project team "when it really got going...after it had struggled, dallied, and lingered for so long." He describes the ERK&A master landscape design as a cross between "formality and informality... very symmetrical, but at the same time very naturalized." The complex Rivergreenway plan for the park constitutes "a mechanism to help alleviate the flooding" of the very susceptible downtown. The design team left much of the existing vegetation along the river's edge, supplementing it to create a natural habitat region and alleviate erosion created by the rising river. Indigenous plant material was chosen for its ability to withstand underwater conditions. The Terrace Garden, carved out of the earth to create a grass-stepped amphitheater, serves as a "strategic hole in the dike," a place for the flood waters to flow. The park was put to the test this spring--when the concrete walk-ways were actually underwater-- and passed with flying colors. According to Project Architect for ERK&A/ Thomas Navin, AIA, Assoc. ASLA, "The plant materials of these landscape 'rooms,' the trees and the understory plantings, areused in the park much as architects would use materials and ornament to create the interior details of a room." These rooms will create both large and small gathering places for passive recreation. Walkways throughout the park vary in width-- from an intimate five feet to a wider ten feet and take you through the many "rooms" of the park, leading to the park furniture set within these spaces. All painted metalwork in the park, including park benches and lampposts, were unified using a custom dark purple "aubergine" color. The color was selected to complement the green foliage of the park. An extensive system of fog jets- the largest public installation of its kind-- threads throughout the park. Fog rises out of the planting beds to create qualities of an enchanted forest and provides cool mist in the hot, Midwestern summers. Triangular follies in the park retell the story of the three rivers of Fort Wayne: the Foliatum is a vine-covered stainless steel pavilion; the Fontenelle is defined by three, eight-foot-high walls of water jets creating a triangular prism of water; and the Forestina is created by three magnificent London Plane trees with attendant Cherokee Princess Dogwoods in a re-creation of Laugier's Primitive Hut. The usage of water in this project also adds to the thematics of the park: the first and second phases use fog mist, the second phase features the water "walls" of the Fontenelle, and the third will display a water field on its Festival Terrace. And according to Edward J. Welling, AIA and Project Architect for the consulting Grinsfelder Associates Architects, Inc., "Headwaters Park has provided a challenge in the complexity of pulling off a project in the heart of an American City, wresting with both the public sector, comprised of city, county, state and federal agencies-- as well as the private sector, including the various interest groups and philanthropic and individual donors alike." A network of sidewalks, well-integrated lighting, and romantic, intricate landscaping in the Olmstedian tradition will certainly bring this Fort Wayne legacy to vibrant life in just a few short years. Kuhne finalizes, "By its design, Headwaters Park is a public estate: a grand landscape set aside for the refreshment of body and mind of all citizens in the region." LASN Photo by Andres Johnston, provided courtesy of The Journal Gazette THIS TRIANGULAR VINE-COVERED BOWER, LOCATED IN THE WESTERN GARDENS OF HEADWATERS PARK, PROVIDES A SHADED PAVILION SHELTER, A FLOWER HOUSE WHOSE LATTICE WALLS ARE TURNED INTO A BLAZE OF COLOR EACH SUMMER BY TRUMPET VINE BLOSSOMS, AND A LYRICAL GARDEN FOLLY WITH FOG MISTING FROM ITS DISH-SHAPED ROOF. AT NIGHT, THE FOLLIATUM TURNS INTO A BEACON, ILLUMINATED WITH FIBER OPTIC LIGHTS IN ITS CEILING, AND HIDDEN SPOTLIGHTS BENEATH THE FOGGY MIST. THE GREAT MEADOW, A THREE-ACRE ELLIPTICAL "ROOM" EXTENDS FROM THE FESTIVAL TERRACE TO THE RIVER'S EDGE. THE TRIANGULAR FONTENELLE AT ITS THRESHOLD FORMS A WATER ROOM DEFINED BY FOUNTAIN JETS, AND COMPLEMENTS THE FOLIATUM PAVILION ACROSS THE CLINTON PARADE. THE GREAT MEADOW PROVIDES UNDULATING GRASSY FIELDS, BORDERED WITH BOTH RICH UNDERSTORY PLANTING AND A FOREST CANOPY FROM INDIGENOUS MAUMEE RIVER VALLEY SPECIES; AT THE EDGE OF THE WOODS, MISTING JETS EVOKE THE IMAGE OF AN ENCHANTED FOREST. Photo by Jock Pottle/Esto, proved courtesy of Eric R. Kuhne & Associates. 1996 PROGRESS AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH. Photo by John Escosa/Stedman Studios, provided courtesy of Eric R. Kuhne & Associates. T

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