Atlanta’s Cook Park Wins National Stormwater Innovation Award

The recognitions for Atlanta’s Rodney Cook Sr. Park at Vine City continue. In July, the project won First Place for Innovative Water Projects for Large Population from the National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies.

NAFSMA, a coalition of local, regional and state water resource agencies and private firms, works to protect people, property, economic activity and the environment from adverse storm and flood water impacts. The awards program highlights cutting-edge strategies by NAFSMA members.

Cook Park showcases how engineering can improve community health and economic well-being by creating an intricate flood-control instrument that doubles as a vibrant and inviting green space. The park empowers the Vine City neighborhood — once home to civil rights icons— by transforming 16 acres of empty lots into a welcoming destination that benefits residents and encourages further revitalization.

Innovation in Action

At the NAFSMA conference in Seattle, Freese and Nichols CEO Brian Coltharp (center) accepted the award along with Stormwater Practice Leader Krista Bethune Melnar (second from left). Also pictured: NAFSMA Executive Director Susan Gilson, Director of Government Relations Sunny Simpkins and President Steve Parrish.

A collaboration of the City of Atlanta, The Trust for Public Land, community residents and engineering professionals, Cook Park weaves together innovative engineering with acres of amenities and applies green infrastructure to tackle long-standing challenges.

Freese and Nichols was hired by Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management to lead design of the stormwater infrastructure, including the flood-control pond and green infrastructure elements. HDR was hired by The Trust for Public Land to lead design of the park. Astra Group, Inc., was the general contractor.

Cook Park is the largest investment in a public park in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood in more than 50 years. It’s an urban retreat that alleviates wastewater overflows and dangerous flooding that had driven numerous residents from uninhabitable homes. The new infrastructure within, around and underneath the park helps implement the City’s innovative stormwater management ordinance and lays the groundwork for future downstream relief projects.

The design demonstrates how stormwater quantity and water quality issues can be addressed in a way that enhances a public space and uplifts an entire neighborhood. Even before designing the flood-control features, the Freese and Nichols team developed a stormwater master plan for the watershed, providing the City with a phased approach to more comprehensive improvements for flood resilience.

In 2022, Cook Park was shortlisted for a global sustainability award after winning the 2022 ACEC National Engineering Excellence Grand Award as one of the top 16 projects in the United States.

The park also has received an ENR Southeast Best Projects of 2021 Award of Merit and an ASCE 2022 Innovation in Sustainable Engineering Award.

Cook Park alleviates persistent flooding in the neighborhood by capturing and storing up to 10 million gallons of stormwater and improving water quality downstream.

Features include:

  • Beautiful and functional rain gardens that filter stormwater from incoming pipes
  • Stormwater planters along the streetscape to capture runoff from neighborhood streets
  • Constructed wetlands and native plantings surrounding the wet pond to filer and enhance water quality


Read more about Cook Park

Through Multidiscipline Innovations, 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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Cook Park Shortlisted for Global Sustainability Award

Already acclaimed nationally and statewide in Georgia, Atlanta’s Cook Park has been named among 28 projects worldwide recognized for their impact on social, economic and environmental quality of life.

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Cook Park Wins Grand Prize, People’s Choice Award from ACEC Georgia

The City of Atlanta’s Rodney Cook Sr. Park continues to receive recognition for its innovations and community enhancement: Three recent awards from ACEC Georgia included the Grand Prize for Engineering Excellence.

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Atlanta’s Cook Park Gets Recognized Nationally for Engineering Excellence

Rodney Cook Sr. Park, a dual-purpose park designed to control neighborhood flooding while providing acres of recreational amenities, will receive a 2022 ACEC National Engineering Excellence Grand Award in May as one of the top 16 projects in the United States.

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Cook Park Receives ACEC National Grand Award, Featured in Engineering Georgia

Atlanta’s Rodney Cook Sr. Park collected a 2022 ACEC National Engineering Excellence Grand Award as one of the top 16 projects in the United States. Engineering Georgia magazine featured the park as their May/June cover story.

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Flood Relief to Transform a Community

In Atlanta’s Vine City and English Avenue community, stormwater runoff into the combined sewer system had caused significant flooding and […]

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Five Projects Win ACEC Awards in TX, GA, OK, NC

Five Freese and Nichols projects have won Engineering Excellence Awards from the state chapters of American Council of Engineering Companies. This is the most Freese and Nichols has ever won in a single year, and three of them will advance to the ACEC national competition.

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