Though the cities of Omaha, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa share frontage along the Missouri River, historically they have not had a place to come together at the water’s edge. Hanafan Rivers Edge Park, a 90-acre public park, creates a shared place for both communities to engage with this great resource and each other. Gina Ford led the design of the project over its nearly ten years and multiple phases of implementation while a principal with Sasaki.
Inspired by the distinct character of the Council Bluffs side of the River—richly forested, green and soft—the park landscape is a unique experience in contrast to the highly urbanized landscapes that surround it. Providing a place of community gathering in the park, a “window” is carved out of an enhanced riparian forest, creating an open landscape down to the water’s edge to accommodate the city’s significant festivals and events and provide a view of the dramatic Omaha skyline.
A series of strategic cuts in the forest—“Windows”—create community places and open up views between the two river communities. Alternating with these cuts, existing stormwater channels—”Wetlands”—are restored, providing ecological connection between the community and the river. Giving form to the park meant strategic and sculptural manipulation of the site’s existing topography. The 15’ high flood protection levee is reshaped as gradual, terraced spaces. The park’s deep, flat floodplain is pulled taut to create a large flexible event lawn.Project Images