Falls Park Design Competition
Falls Park is a large, approximately 120-acre, municipal park located in downtown Sioux Falls, SD. Falls Park is named after the raging waters of the Big Sioux River that tumbles over the exposed quartzite bedrock located within the park. This natural wonder makes the park a destination point for area residents and tourists year-round. Falls Park is currently organized into 4 regions; Falls Proper, Falls East, Falls North, and Falls West (see attachment A).
Prior to 1990, Falls Park and the adjacent downtown areas were largely neglected. This led to an overrun with volunteer vegetation and dilapidated infrastructure throughout the area. In the early 2000s, the City of Sioux Falls began a series of significant investments to revitalize its downtown. This entailed demolition and remediation of unused industrial sites, street and utility projects throughout the central business district, and improvements to the city’s namesake park. Improvements included multiple construction projects within Falls Park, two phases of the City’s downtown river greenway, and multiple streetscape improvements within the City’s downtown core.
Attendance within Falls Park has increased over 65 percent in the past 15 years. Due to increased usage, many of the existing facilities within the park are nearing the end of their useful or programmable life. In 2019, the City completed a $4 million construction project in Falls Park West. The project was completed as part of a public/private partnership with the National Levitt Foundation and the local nonprofit Friends of Levitt Shell Sioux Falls. The project transformed the open space of Falls Park West into a state of the art outdoor performance venue and festival grounds. Falls Park West is now home to 50 free professional concerts every year.
Private properties within Sioux Falls’ downtown have also continued to redevelop over the past few decades. Many past industrial sites have been repurposed into mixed used developments, offering business space, entertainment, and housing in the areas around Falls Park.
It is within this context that the City of Sioux Falls conducted the Falls Park Master Plan Design Competition.
Scope of Work
The challenge for the design teams was to create a comprehensive vision for the entirety of Falls Park. The vision should address current demands, as well as future uses. A successful design will fully integrate the diverse features of the park into a unified program that maximizes the potential of this special place. It will operate at the scale of the city, but capitalize on site-specific qualities and unique experiences of the park. It will explore multiple possibilities and opportunities, transform the area, and inspire the community. Ultimately, this master plan of Falls Park will do for Sioux Falls what Central Park does for New York City!
The overarching goal of the design competition was to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the entire Falls Park area. A successful design will address, at a minimum, the following programmatic considerations, and create an inclusive framework to:
- Generate big ideas to meet the growing needs of the community, and respond to the natural environment and built history of the site.
- Consider multiple scales, from broad systems to local sites.
- Think about long-term development and flexible solutions that change/mature over time.
- Investigate landscapes that are accessible year round and respond to the changing seasons with a focus on more year round activities.
- Explore new and compelling experiences to support a wide range of social activities.
- Build upon the existing features and spaces of the park.
- Utilize new and innovative park designs.
- Capitalize on the existing assets through place-based solutions that consider the geography, history, culture, ecology, and economic conditions of the City of Sioux Falls.
- Accommodate individual land uses, landscapes, and places that perform more than one function.
- Investigate new opportunities for connectivity, sustainability, infrastructure, art, public space, public/private partnerships, and the Big Sioux River including the transportation network.
- Examine multiple types of movement to safely navigate to and through the park.
- Consider connections to all places within of the park, the Big Sioux River, and the surrounding neighborhoods.
- Connect the diverse recreational, ecological, and historic opportunities located within the park to the surrounding downtown urban environment.
Designs were scored on the following criteria:
Does the design create a comprehensive vision for the entirety of the planning area?
|Innovation & Creativity
Does the design generate original ideas that can improve and transform the area?
Does the design provide new opportunities and improve existing experiences?
|Feasibility & Practicality
Are the ideas in the design achievable?
|Activation & Recreation
Will the design draw people to the park?
Does the design explore and address all possible connections to support the new vision for Falls Park?