Atlanta’s Cook Park Gets Recognized Nationally for Engineering Excellence

The new $40 million Rodney Cook Sr. Park at Vine City in Atlanta, Georgia, which showcases how engineering can improve community health and economic well-being, has been recognized as one of the nation’s best examples of Engineering Excellence by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC).

In May, the project will receive a 2022 ACEC National Engineering Excellence Grand Award as one of the top 16 projects in the United States. The recognition follows a statewide Engineering Excellence Award from ACEC Georgia, to be presented March 19.

A collaboration of the City of Atlanta, The Trust for Public Land and community residents, Cook Park combines innovative engineering features with acres of recreational amenities. The park’s vibrant green space doubles as a hard-working instrument to alleviate persistent flooding in the neighborhood by capturing and storing up to 10 million gallons of stormwater.

Freese and Nichols led design of the park’s stormwater features; HDR led design of the park and recreational elements. A multidiscipline team spanning seven Freese and Nichols offices across four states led design of the park’s stormwater features for Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management. Before designing the central detention pond and surrounding features, the team developed a stormwater master plan for the 150-acre watershed, including a phased approach for implementation.

HDR, hired by the Trust for Public Land, led design of the park — which features pedestrian bridges and recreational amenities, including a playground, splashpad, basketball court and an expansive lawn space.

As a dual-purpose park and watershed management project, Cook Park seamlessly integrates functional engineering features within the programmed park and includes public education components that illustrate how the green infrastructure elements help reduce flood risk and improve water quality.

Rodney Cook Sr. Park also shows how public and private partners can bring a dream to reality:

  • Transforming empty lots into a gleaming 16-acre urban oasis that embraces the neighborhood’s history, honors peacemakers and serves as a catalyst for further economic development
  • Protecting the area from flooding, improving water quality through natural filtration and easing strain on the sewer system
  • Achieving long-term cost savings by lowering park maintenance costs, reducing peak loads on the City’s treatment plant and improving downstream water quality
  • Creating a public space that promotes education about Vine City, civic history, culture and the importance of stormwater resilience for helping communities thrive

ACEC has been recognizing outstanding engineering achievement for more than 50 years. A panel of more than 30 built-environment professionals from throughout the nation judges each entry in the awards competition for excellence in technical savvy, innovation and social impact.

Tricia Hatley

Cook Park Rejuvenates Atlanta’s Historic Westside

Both a stormwater solution and a sorely needed green space, Cook Park combines innovative engineering with acres of amenities to show how creative and sustainable infrastructure solutions can help communities thrive.

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