Before a vision could take shape, the site was ravaged. In April 2013, David Rubin Land Collective won the commission to design Westfield, Indiana’s Grand Junction Plaza, only to see a flood hit Cool Creek and its downtown surroundings two weeks later. For firm principal and lead designer David Rubin, the deluge underscored the importance of a total landscape rethink.
Beyond more resilient stormwater infrastructure, the 31,500-square-metre expanse also needed public amenities that would nourish a stronger connection to nature. Bisected by a channelized creek, the lot was a classic “urban leftover” — centrally located, yet with no overarching plan or purpose. “I began to talk about what it means to assemble in a civic setting,” says Rubin, describing the community consultations during the project’s genesis. “What is the identity of this place?”
Rubin and his team started by returning the landscape to a more natural state, transforming Cool Creek’s concrete channel into a sinuous stream flanked by a catchment that would allow for periodic flooding. On either side, water- absorbing plants line a swampy new berm.
By introducing a series of stairs and walkways that welcome the public down to the water, the design team also created a more vibrant destination. To one side of the creek, elegant amphitheatre seating now overlooks a wooden walkway that resolves at a modest stage. “People get married there,” Rubin says.
At its northwestern corner, the park transitions into hardscaping that includes a splash pad and a café pavilion designed by HWKN (with Ratio as the Architect of Record). This structure’s tessellated limestone and sleek glass facade exists in dialogue with Indiana’s topography and rectilinear Jefferson land grid. “There was no strong sense of place, no connection to the landscape,” says HWKN founder Matthias Hollwich. “So we wanted to design something contextual.” Mission accomplished.
David Rubin Land Collective, HWKN and Ratio teamed up to give Indiana’s Grand Junction Plaza a total landscape rethink.