This tour will give participants an opportunity to view and experience a number of recently completed projects which help to make downtown Omaha and its neighbor to the east, Council Bluffs, an exciting and engaging place to live, work and play. Participants will be provided with a bicycle (and helmet) from which to observe these projects up close and personal. You will be guided by Carlos Morales, City of Omaha’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator, as he leads you along your unique tour to each project site. Please come prepared as this tour is scheduled to occur “come rain or shine”!
Patrice Slaven, will host this tour stop. In 2009, the Omaha Downtown Improvement District, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, the Omaha Public Art Commission and the City of Omaha joined together to determine the best way to replace the deteriorating benches within the Gene Leahy Mall and further strengthen this iconic park within downtown Omaha. The resulting Take A Seat! public art project placed 13 new functional art pieces throughout the park in May 2010.
Thanks to the talents, creativity and generosity of Omaha’s outstanding architectural and engineering community, you will be able to view, enjoy, experience, and most importantly-TAKE A SEAT! on some of Omaha’s newest pieces of art!
Steve Jensen will host this tour stop as you trace the development of Omaha’s downtown and riverfront areas beginning with the 1974 Downtown Omaha Master Plan spearheaded by Lawrence Halprin & Associates. Visit Omaha’s riverfront, Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge and the North Downtown arts and entertainment district. See first-hand, projects created as a result of Omaha’s public/private revitalization efforts including the location of the soon to be developed Pinnacle site redevelopment project.
Susannah Ross and Larry Foster, will lead this tour stop. Directly across from downtown Omaha and at the foot of the newly-completed Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, the Council Bluffs Riverfront Park is a 90-acre public park situated within the broad riparian floodplain of the great Missouri River. Sasaki’s master plan for the park capitalizes upon the distinct character of the Council Bluffs side of the river—richly forested, green, and soft—in distinct contrast to the highly urbanized landscape that surrounds it.
The design of the park focuses intensity of public use and development in a core area of the existing site which allows access to the river and also preserves key habitat and riparian floodplain. Strategies to increase the ecological function of the site include nearly 20 acres of reforestation, roadside bioswales, porous pavement, diverse native plantings, and parking lot rain gardens. The ecologically sensitive areas north and south of the bridge’s landing are reinforced by reforestation and wetland enhancement strategies and accessed via a series of trails and environmental interpretation.
At the bridge landing, a “window” is carved out of the forest, creating an open landscape down to the water’s edge that can accommodate the city’s significant festivals and events and provide a view of the dramatic Omaha skyline. The edges of the window provide shaded groves for picnicking and a river-scaled sandbox for play at the water’s edge. All of these improvements are designed to withstand occasional flooding of the site and are coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
The integration of public art is a key component of the park design. Environmental artist Doug Hollis is an integral member of the design team and will contribute an iconic weather-inspired tower and water feature to the park’s landing—an active water play and ice-skating plaza atop the existing levee. The plan accommodates the works of other artists, from lighting installations to sculptural elements, and will be implemented over time.