In 2017, Heartwood was the largest undeveloped parcel within Omaha, Nebraska – 500 acres of farmland which had slowly been surrounded by suburban sprawl. Applied Underwriters, the current owners, planned to develop the site as an anchor for their corporate campus, and create a new model of development for the region. The land lies within a watershed recently ravaged by unprecedented floods, a weather pattern that is becoming more ubiquitous with climate change. The Omaha community suffered over 1.3 billion dollars in damages over the past two years; farms have been shuttered, families have lost their homes.
Addressing the watershed for flood control was essential for the site development. Beyond the campus, the overall site had also been programmed to include housing, a 25-acre central park and retail, all framed by the Greenway system. The backbone of the Greenways is a progression of sculpted water vessels that display and cleanse 170 acre-feet of stormwater and mitigate flooding. The Greenways, comprised of 130 acres of native prairie and forest, include more than 14 miles of trails that meander through 13 stormwater detention vessels, linking the entire development with connections to Omaha’s larger trail network.
Over 10,000 trees will be planted throughout the development, intended to honor the agrarian history of the site while giving a nod to Arbor Day, which originated in Nebraska. Trees that had to be removed to create the clearings will find new homes throughout the park as totems and as they decay, provide habitat for native woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees. Studded within the clearings are amenities like council rings, fire pits, small amphitheaters, and stone cairns that provide shelter and become park follies. Our design expresses stormwater infrastructure as an ecological art form and will serve both the community and the land.
David Meyer /Principal Designer Erik Jensen /Project Manager Grace Amundson / Designer Sofia Nikolaidou / Designer