'A Gathering Place for Tulsa': What's in the George Kaiser Family Foundation's River Parks project?

TULSA - A 3D model for the George Kaiser Family Foundation's $200 million River Parks project will be unveiled to the public Tuesday.

"A Gathering Place for Tulsa" is designed to be an environmentally sustainable attraction for the community.  Planned for a 55-acre plot of land where the Blair Mansion is located near 29th and Riverside Drive, the park boasts a number of elements outlined by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh.

RELATED: George Kaiser Family Foundation to put model of Riverside project 'A Gathering Place' on display (http://bit.ly/13XQ5uR)

Below is a description from the George Kaiser Family Foundation of "A Gathering Place":

The Adventure Playground will be a family destination, offering a special outdoor environment where everything has been designed to engage both the imagination and the body, with a particular emphasis on the recreational and educational benefits of engagement with plants and the natural world.  Four different play areas, each centered on a different set of activities, will be connected along a play circuit that will reveal each zone in an intriguing and surprising way.

Blair Pond will be a major nexus of park activity that brings the excitement and tranquility of water into the heart of the park, creating a more diverse landscape experience and program.  Fed by groundwater, Blair Pond will create opportunities for several kinds of recreation, including boating, fishing and wildlife habitat observation.

The Boathouse is designed to attract visitors of a wide range of ages and interests.  The building will house a mixture of social and educational spaces, with a contemporary take on the traditional boathouse at its base.  The Boathouse will be integrated into the landscape with respect to program, experience and function.

On top of the Boathouse, a large community deck will provide birds-eye views of the park, the Arkansas River and the downtown Tulsa Skyline.  Partially enclosed by a  dramatic canopy, the deck will also include a cafe to grab a bite to eat or drink.

The main promenade of the Four Seasons Garden pays homage to the sublime natural rock formations in Tulsa's Chandler Park. The garden space will be framed by undulating walls of natural sandstone that also provide ample seating and artfully celebrate the native landscape.

Built out into the Arkansas River, Lakeview Lawn will create a distinctive moment within the existing River Parks trail system, opening up a generous landscape space that allows visitors access to the water's edge.  It will be a perfect place to watch Tulsa's 4th of July fireworks display or enjoy the sunset.

The Lodge will be a welcoming building that anchors a variety of park activities, offering amenities such as a community room, welcome atrium, restrooms and food offerings.  Its floor-to-ceiling glass windows and stacked stone will give it a natural and open feel.  Through a combination of green roofs, adjacent plantings and site grading, the Lodge will feel fully integrated into the park setting.

Tulsa's summertime heat often keeps people indoors, rather than out and about.  The Mist Mountain is one of the many elements of the park designed specifically to provide an exciting and active way to beat the heat.  A water labyrinth and fog zone will make up a large water play area for children, while jumping water jets and tunnels will perforate a larger garden space that can be enjoyed by all park-goers.  A series of picnic terraces and a grotto feature that faces onto Blair Pond will further enhance the water engagement.

Located on one of the park's land bridges over Riverside Drive and open to the frequently dramatic Oklahoma sky, the Sky Garden will be an intense horticultural moment of showy flowers and shrubs within the park's generally more open understory.  Plants will be chosen to maximize seasonal variety, so that the garden is compelling year-round.  There will be opportunities for community and volunteer participation in the garden's upkeep and evolution.

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