Outreach Projects

Westerly Park Designs

Fall 2014

Westerly Riverfront project
   (Click to enlarge)

Junior studio students worked with the Westerly Town Planners office and Marilyn Shellman, a town planner and URI alumna, to examine a 2.5 acre site in downtown Westerly. The area, which is near the Westerly Amtrak station, has experienced severe flooding from the Pawcatuck River in recent years. FEMA grant money acquired by the town was to be used to restore the site to a community open space.

Students analyzed the physical and ecological characteristics of the site using aerial and onsite photography, flood maps, and climate data. They also considered future users of the space including local residents, Amtrak commuters, and summer tourists. This research informed the overall site design.

Student designs were innovative and varied. Many of the most notable features employed are listed in the table below. As a whole, students successfully integrated green energy sources and considered storm water management systems to create ecologically conscious designs that offer resilience against future flooding events.

The class’s work culminated with design boards presented at the Westerly town council. The designs were used to showcase the site’s potential as the project moved forward.

Notable Student Design Features

  • Parking lots utilizing permeable paving and vegetated islands of native plantings
  • Storm water management bio swales and rain gardens
  • Riparian borders to prevent erosion of the riverbank
  • Innovative play structures
  • Boulder gardens
  • Boardwalks
  • Splash fountains
  • Food truck parking
  • Solar LED lighting
  • Kayak launches
  • Locally sourced granite and salvaged wood
  • Community vegetable gardens
  • Wind turbines
  • Open recreation space