KVA, in collaboration with Tom Leader Studio, designed the Master Plan for Rail Road Park, a new pubic green space reclaimed from a 21 acre Southern Norfolk rail yard in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. As a civic common space, the Rail Road Park functions both as a commemorative site for the history of the rail road and an active piece of sustainable urban infrastructure that serves the city. The design uses land forms and architectural gabion walls to improve ground water drainage. Contaminated storm water is cleaned through a system of seasonal bio-remediation water ways and collected in a new lake for recreational boating.

The lake creates a major reservoir on site for summer irrigation needs, preventing the need to draw on city water supplies. It is recharged in the summer both by rains within the park watershed, as well as an on-site well when necessary. The presence of this large body of water brings a cooling presence to the downtown. The open-air East Gate and Amphitheater Pavilion, the Park’s formal entry, was positioned to receive breezes across the water making the park more habitable on the hot summer days. The amphitheater is a dedicated evening performance venue for classical music and a day time destination for informal public gathering and enjoyment of jazz, gospel and contemporary music. A wetland pond at the east end of the park collects runoff from surrounding knolls and swales forming the headwaters of the system. At night, motion sensors record the movement of trains and emit patterns through LED lighting arrays.

Date: 2010
Status: Completed
Client: City of Birmingham
Location: Birmingham, AL
Design Team:
Frano Violich, FAIA
Sheila Kennedy, FAIA
Architect: Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd
Landscape Architect: Tom Leader Studio

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