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The City of Westminster in Colorado had functioned without a downtown area for years. A common plight of a suburb, there was no true pedestrian-oriented focal point of the city. Located between Boulder and Denver with a population of 90,000 the City of Westminster wanted to create a central gathering place for citizens and tourists alike - an entertainment and business complex where all could enjoy the temperate Colorado weather, entertainment and the rich history of the Westminster community. Built in two phases, the Westminster Promenade was completed within four years. Today, it is home to the second largest conference center in the Rocky Mountain region and has become a tourism gateway to the city. Anchored by four major facilities, visitors to the Promenade can enjoy a 24-screen movie theater complex, an ice arena with three National Hockey League ice rinks, a 369-room hotel that contains a city-operated 50,000 s.f. convention center and an adjacent butterfly pavillion. A 2-acre lake, fountains, sculptures, outdoor cafes and restaurants and specialty retailers contribute to the Promenade experience. Colorful pave stones tie the 106 acres center together with walkways and open-air plazas. The Promenade lit a spark for area development. The adjacent land has been rapidly developing and demand has been high for the retail and commercial properties. "This was truly a remarkable project to be a part of," John Rowe, Pavestone Company, Denver said. "It was a diverse team of professionals focused on the shared goal of developing a cutting-edge pedestrian-oriented entertainment complex. The team consisted of landscape architects, general contractors, city officials, residents, pave stone installers, civil engineer/lake consultant, graphic design and site furnishing consultant, urban designer, structural engineer and architect. They took a vision and developed it into a very successful urban renewal project. The Westminster Promenade sets new standards in municipal development and the credit goes to the successful collaboration of this team of professionals." With a vision of incorporating the rich city history, the Promenade was designed with a high plains theme. No detail was overlooked in achieving this cultural goal. The Promenade walkway was designed to evoke the image of large agricultural fields when viewed from a plane. Light fixtures and benches incorporate a grass pattern relating to the grasses of the plains. The color palette of pale greens and tans is based on the colors found in the great plains. "City Stone concrete pave stones provided a variety of rectangle and square shapes that allowed us to create the tweed pattern used for the large checkerboard paving fields," Roger Burkart, ASLA Project Manager, DHM Design explained. "Colored concrete was an early option, but did not provide the flexibility required for the soil conditions or the richness in color and texture we wanted. Installation was also much easier since the sequence or pours of the design and location of expansion joints was not necessary to consider. The Promenade has been constructed in a location that is dominated by heavy clays that have a high shrink/swell potential. The flexible nature of concrete pave stones makes it easy to accommodate minor shifts without cracking or heaving. "The primary paving design is based on a checkerboard of greens and tans, eight foot square," Burkart said. "This is modified slightly when the promenade passes the lake edge. Here the paving fields are divided by a radial band that ties to the lakeside trellises or building entries. Another radial pattern leads to the information kiosk located near the ice arena." Communication Arts of Boulder Colorado worked with the landscape architect to bring the project design to life. Nick Igel, Project Manager envisioned the lush green prairie grass native to the land that the Promenade was to be built on and the nearby tan wheat fields of the farming community. He selected a sampling of paint chips that resembled the Colorado high plains pale greens and tans. Next, he challenged Pavestone's John Rowe to create manufactured concrete pave stones in the chosen environmental colors. Rowe worked with his production crew in the creation of almost 20 custom color samples to assure the success of the project's important color goal. The Promenade buildings incorporate a variety of earthtone colors which were selected to harmonize with the pave stone colors. The Westminster Promenade was designed to be a unique, outdoor pedestrian-oriented entertainment complex. This was achieved with the creation of multiple gathering places connected by decorative walkways. Among the points of interest are a section of life-size bronze horse sculptures, an interactive fountain area and man-made lake with cascading falls. The combination of hardscape themes, water amenities and softscape design creates a strong identity for the Promenade. The multi-shaped, interlocking pave stones were used for a 30' by quarter mile length of a pedestrian walkway, auto drop-off zones at the theater and hotel and also for crosswalks linking to the 10 mile long Dry Creek open space trail system. The Promenade has more than 175,000 sf of concrete pave stones. Continental Hardscapes, who has more than 20 years experience in the installation of interlocking pave stones installed the project. Variety was created in the paving design by incorporating subtle patterns and large blocks of colored squares that incorporated three pave stone colors per 8-foot field. "With more than 175,000 sf of pave stones to install, 24 different pallets of paver shapes and colors to choose from, some complex patterning requiring many cuts, this was a complicated and challenging project," Jim Reed, Continental Hardscape said. "Nonetheless, it was a very successful and satisfying job. The Promenade was a great team effort by so many diverse professionals." The landscape architect was responsible for all landscape and hardscape details. This included the creation of construction details for the complex paving concepts; site grading - specifically the challenges of the man-made lake and its placement within the context of the site; facilitation with anxious homeowners afraid that a commercial development would mar their views of the great Rocky Mountain plains; and creation of the Promenade's master plan. The 2-acre man-made lake presented the most unique challenge for the landscape architect. The lake serves as the focal point and has several outdoor plazas leading to it. The entire Promenade is constructed on a base of expansive clay soil. All structures had to be built on caissons that extend 30' into the ground. Expansive clay soil is common at the base of the Rocky Mountains, and typically prevents a design that combines hardscape and buildings in close proximity with a lake environment. Special care had to be taken everystep of the way to ensure a solid structural lake edge (while still allowing for a natural design and public interaction opportunities), and to minimize water infiltration should the site experience soil shifts. Designed in three terraces, the lake provides the feel of a mountain stream cascading down the natural terrain of the great rockies. The pave stone plaza located across from the lake in front of the hotel has proved to be a very popular gathering area. The Plains Indians, original inhabitants of the Westminster area, provide a glimpse into this Rocky Mountain town's heritage through their symbols and artwork portrayed in educational panels at the base of eight light fixtures. The pave stone walkways replicating the high plains lead Promenade visitors on a historical journey where they learn about buffalo, mountain men, westward migration, and other facets of the Colorado high plains life throughout this area. To alleviate the area homeowners concerns about the visual impact of the commercial development on their scenic Rocky Mountain views, the project design transformed a strip of land between the parking lot and residential homes into an arboretum-like area. "The Promenade has become the premier outdoor pedestrian project between Denver and Boulder serving a trade area of over 300,000 people," John Carpenter, Director of Community Development, City of Westminster said. "The project is a source of pride and helps create a unique identity for Westminster. Alva D. Logsdon is a frequent contributor to Landscape Architect and Specifier News. hello

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December 8, 2019, 8:01 am PDT

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