Wenk Associates Inc. boasts of various projects related to water bodies, parks, urban planning, community, and campus-level landscape design. The Denver-based firm has public, private, institutional, and community-level clients built during 40 years of practice in the United States. Founder William Wenk and his team have designed enduring landscapes while incorporating stormwater management into the design and building.

Bringing practical experience and expertise for everyone to learn from Wenk Associates recently published the book, Working Water: Reinventing the Storm Drain , which talks about practical concepts, principles, challenges, and projects from the firm, displaying sustainable and tested solutions.

1. Steamboat Base Area Redevelopment 

Location: Steamboat Springs, Colorado , USA
Year: Completed 2011

Steamboat Springs, Colorado, has long been a renowned ski resort , but the stream at the base area has remained a pipe beneath the ski slope. This initiative brought life back to the community by recovering Burgess Creek, constructing a new neighboring promenade, and emphasizing tourism destinations. Inspired by its natural surroundings, the creek currently runs through pools, canyons, and riffles, ensuring safe water access for everybody in the summer. Even in the summers, the community now provides a variety of recreational areas and activities for inhabitants and tourists.

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2. Menomonee River Valley Redevelopment and Community Park

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Year: Completed 2012

This project is a success story for Wenk Associates; a 140-acre marsh that underwent 125 years of fill and industrial contamination is now one of Wisconsin’s most prominent brownfield recovery stories. It took ten years, but the region has completely transformed, providing much-needed economic opportunities, sustainable design, and vast public parks along the Menomonee River. Stormwater for nearby industrial areas is treated within the park, built atop capped polluted soil. The master plan, which includes three pedestrian bridges, an underpass, and seven diverse landscape typologies, leaves no stone unturned in its effort to reopen the area to people and bring back life.

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3. TAXI Mixed-Use Development

Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Year: Completed 2007

A defunct taxi dispatch center on a flat site is transformed into a multi-use place with a natural environment and for a mixed-use development. The landscape is derived from the South Platte River environment with stormwater gardens, and using repurposed materials emphasizes the site’s position in a light industrial zone. The TAXI development in Denver has gone through several phases, from housing and commercial spaces to community amenities, all of which are complemented by carefully planned stormwater landscaping.

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4. Northside Park

Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Year: Completed 1999

A short distance from downtown Denver lies this innovative 13-acre park that was previously an abandoned sewage treatment plant. The demolition of the sewage plant would be expensive and unfeasible; hence, Wenk Associates suggested an unconventional way of keeping the infrastructure. Standing proudly, a prime example of reuse, like the seating for playfields and park shelters from plant structures and the old concrete drain channel that creates a series of wetlands, is a sustainable design that was way ahead of its time. 

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5. Midtown Redevelopment

Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Year: Ongoing – 2022

As our city evolves, so does the landscape and our idea of how people will live in the space. This mixed-use neighborhood in the RiNo district is designed to be pedestrian and bike-friendly, focusing on streetscapes, plazas, and open spaces. The traffic is expected to slow down, and the open area will host festivities and events. A new street junction would link the many purposes of entertainment, office, retail, and housing to the future RiNo Promenade along the river.

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6. Clear Creek Corridor Master Plan

Location: Adams County, Colorado, USA
Year: Completed 2018

Clear Creek flows through Adams County for about 7 miles, and next to it lay 178 acres of open area with few facilities and visibly underutilized. The county hired Wenk Associates to create a master plan with the long-term goal of developing the region into an environmentally varied recreational zone. The concept includes:

  • Increasing safety.
  • Connecting the route to neighborhoods.
  • Providing necessary facilities.
  • Identifying sites for eventual river bed stabilization and revival.
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6. Confluence Park

Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Year: Master Plan – 2012, Phase 1 Shoemaker Plaza – 2017

Confluence Park in Downtown Denver encompasses the junction of the South Pallete River and Cherry Creek, a historic area with brick residences and stores that have been rebuilt since the late 1980s. Wenk Associates was commissioned to create the master plan and oversee the reconstruction of the 40-year-old shoemaker plaza. The redeveloped plaza had the wider bike and pedestrian lanes and better quality materials that satisfied the new norms. Multi-function terraces facing the river and more views from the street level were also made available to the public. 

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7. The River Mile

Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Year: Ongoing – 2022

Downtown Denver is becoming recognized for its new riverside parks and public spaces, which will serve as the focal point of the River Mile development. One of the critical goals of this plan is to improve pedestrian and bicycle connection along the river, primarily through connecting to two other large parks, Confluence Park and the Central Commons District. The center plaza along the river is intended to be a hub of activity, hosting events and festivals daily.

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8. Lowry Redevelopment Park and Open Space System

Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Year: Completed 2012

A former air base of 1900 acres has been transformed into a mixed-use community with 230 acres of parks and public spaces. The stormwater management and other landscaping systems were developed with traditional methods in mind while embracing green infrastructure and modern patterns of public usage of recreational places. Developed to have three linked parks,

  • Westerly Creek Dam Fillets, a man made landform 
  • The sports complex
  • The big lawn, with native plant species covering 50% of the park
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9. Four Seasons Hotel & Residences – Rooftop Terrace

Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Year: Completed 2010

Apart frm multi-acre master plans and landscape design projects, Wenk Associates Inc. also excels in luxury design. The roof of the 45-story skyscraper of Four Seasons hotel is designed with a garden, pool, and two meeting rooms catering to the guests’ needs. This hotel emphasizes Colorado’s outdoor lifestyle in the sense of how from the roof, one may enjoy panoramic city views, sunsets, and skylines.

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10. Westminster Central Plaza

Location: Westminster, Colorado, USA
Year: Completed 2018

Westminster aspires to be Colorado’s next large city, beginning with creating a new downtown featuring a 1.2-acre center square . This venue was built to handle up to 200 events each year, ranging from local gatherings to large-scale festival celebrations. The facility’s main architectural characteristics include 

  • Central assembly space for the farmers’ market, festivals
  • Sloped lawns for a pleasant gathering of the public
  • Podium for performances and sitting

A dynamic water feature provides an atmosphere, shade trees, and an area for food trucks and pop-up restaurants. 

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11. Grand River Corridor Implementation Plan and River Trail Design Guidelines

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Year: Ongoing – 2022

The Grand River is regarded as a valuable natural asset, and the decision has been made to safeguard it by establishing a green corridor that would protect the stream and avoid floods. Furthermore, the community may watch the river’s separating point from a stunning central meeting space. Wenk Associates developed guidelines and concept sections for six distinct river locations to stimulate the river corridor.

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12. Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan

Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Year: Completed 2007

LA is one of the densest cities in America, and transforming 32 miles of concrete-lined channelized river into green public space is one of the city’s most significant accomplishments. The proposal lays up a framework for revitalizing the river by improving flood storage water quality and providing secure public access. Another critical component of the plan is “Green the neighborhoods,” which entails establishing greenways for connectivity, adding public art, and expanding the open leisure experience with water elements. This method created civic pride, involved citizens in the process, and ultimately celebrated the river’s cultural legacy.

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13. Arkins (RiNo) Promenade

Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Year: Completed 2022

The Arkins (RiNo) Promenade is a linear park promenade that was created by repurposing an existing local roadway in an industrial neighborhood. The park features grounds for various outdoor games, elevated pathways, public art, bicycle lanes, and views of various landscapes. As Wenk Associates has often demonstrated with their creative stormwater treatment methods, this one is no exception, with shallow planted swales. With a playground and site features created entirely of recycled/reused materials, this is undoubtedly a sustainable project. 

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14. Auraria Higher Education Center (AHEC) Tivoli Quadrangle

Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Year: Completed Phase 1 & 2 – 2016, Phase 3 – 2017

The Tivoli Quadrangle is envisioned as a shared university and community area, as well as a daily site for relaxation, entertainment, and enjoyment of the breathtaking sights of Downtown Denver. East’s athletic grounds, previously closed to the public, were opened up and renovated into a lively park serving the university. The development’s principal features include a tiered patio, tranquil lounging places, and a big amphitheater. 

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15. Shop Creek Restoration

Location: Metro Denver, Colorado, USA
Year: Completed 1989

Wenk Associates has shown to be an ecologically competent planning business that creates sustainably. The phosphorous flow from the creek was divided in half, and a highly eroded creek bed was transformed into a dynamic and pleasant example of conscience and diversified highland and wetlands ecosystem.

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References: 

  1. Wenkla .n.d. [online] Available at: < https://www.wenkla.com/projects >
  2. Riverforall.com. 2017. [online] Available at: < http://riverforall.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/2017_Focus-Group-Meeting-Presentation.pdf >
Author

A student interested in understanding people and their relation with spaces better, both through the built and unbuilt. She is fascinated by little things and wants to share that feeling with the world through her words.

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