Story County Conservation desired uniquely designed, cost-effective, beautiful, and sustainable projects to be built in West Peterson Park. Phase I was a park shelter located in a remote area of the park (across the pond, adjacent to a small trail). The Phase II projects were two fishing docks floating in the pond, including one that was directly adjacent to the shelter.

For both phases of work they had a tight timeline for the work and very little money budgeted--a perfect opportunity for architectural ingenuity and a design build effort of graduate students from Iowa State.

Description of Shelter:

West Peterson Park was the site of an old rock quarry--the quarry has since been filled in as a small lake (known as Peterson Pits). The shelter was sited on a small open outcropping of land that stuck into the lake. Because this location was far away from the park entry and parking lot, it had to have a visually striking presence upon first viewing from a distance and it had to be built out of small pieces that could be transported to the remote site.

The location of the shelter was selected to offer the best views out and the easiest access to the adjacent trailway while providing shading from the noon-time sun and capturing the prevailing summer winds.

Because of the incredibly restricted budget of $2,000, only a wooden structure could be used and each piece of wood was selected to match nominal lengths to reduce waste. Underneath the lightweight wooden structure, the class constructed rammed-earth benches to create three separate “rooms” on the site--one facing inward under the roof with others facing out to the unique views offered of the park. These rammed earth benches are uniquely modified to meet the environmental challenges of an Iowa climate and are unique prototypes. Stabilized rammed earth is a beautiful, low-impact and affordable solution to providing permanent outdoor seating for the park shelter--it was also quite affordable.

Finally, students crafted custom screens for bench backrests and used a translucent roof material for the shelter to create a unique environment for park patrons--elements that also benefited the environmental responsiveness of the structure. A custom fixed table was placed in the middle of the shelter, instantly announcing its purpose to passing pedestrians.

Description of Fishing Docks:

The new fishing docks were envisioned as more than just floating planes in the water--they were designed with the idea that fishing is one form of recreation, and that built environments for recreation should provide options for its use and occupation. Some people use small watercraft to fish, some stand-up, some sit down, and some frankly just want to socialize. The new dock design has places for each of these activities to occur. As such the main dock was designed an L-shape dock that allowed for a boat dock along the open edge, a continuous bench for sunbathing and relaxing, and dedicated “Fishing Stations” at the front of the dock with places for tackle boxes, supplies, and a built-in pole holder. A second dock was designed and built right next to the Phase I shelter. This completed the master plan idea from the previous year that the shelter space would provide a full range of recreational options. This design also accommodated a boat dock, a leaning rail for fishing, and free-standing benches for resting.

The docks were built by students in an off-site warehouse and then assembled on site. The small details of the bench designs, rails, and coloring really help communicate the enhanced attention to detail the docks represent.