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
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.
- 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