Blue Hole Regional Park

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    A cypress "teepee", another nature-based play feature. Photo: Design Workshop, Inc.
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    The park's titular swimming hole. Photo: Design Workshop, Inc.
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    View of the swimming hole. Photo: Design Workshop, Inc.
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    Recreational trails are safe, attractive, and accessible to all ages. Photo: Design Workshop, Inc.

LOCATION: Wimberley, Texas
TYPE: Park Renovation
SIZE: 126 acres
YEAR COMPLETED: 2011-2012
PROJECT ARCHITECTS: Design Workshop, Inc.
PROJECT partners: Taniguchi & Associates, T.F. Harper and Associates, Regenerative Environmental Design, PBS&J, GreenPlay, MJ Structures, James Pole, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, FEULS Inc., Walter P. Moore and Moon Design

It achieves the difficult and delicate balance of ecological restoration combined with active use. It is a challenge because environmentally sensitive sites can be easily degraded by public access, and particularly active recreation, but in this case the balance was achieved for both the benefit of the site as well as users. The types of active recreation that have been embedded into the plan are appropriate for the site and enable the visitor to engage with nature, again, in a way that protects the fragile aspects while stimulating the user,” said Signe Nielsen.

In 2003, the city, county, and community embarked on a mission to save Blue Hole from encroaching development, and the years of unmanaged recreational activities that had damaged the site and ecosystem. In order to reverse the historical environmental degradation of the Park, and to accommodate its large number of annual visitors, the design team sought to include a variety of active recreation options while also achieving SITES Certification. The Active Design strategies included in Blue Hole were a direct result of community crafted goals that informed the park design.

Active Design Highlights

  • The park supports active recreational uses such as soccer, basketball, playgrounds, hiking, camping, and swimming.
  • 96% of the undisturbed on-site area was protected from development despite adding 320,000 square feet of active programming.
  • 70% tree coverage was maintained, providing shade for outdoor active spaces.
  • 4.6 miles of recreational trails were added, including a connection to the regional hiking/biking trail.
  • Pedestrian routes to spaces within the park are safe, visible, and well-lit.

Innovation

  • To promote exercise among children, the design team created nature-based play features made from re-purposed materials found on-site, such as an interactive water table, sand pit, and cypress “teepees.”
  • After increasing recreational options within the park, surveys show a 116% increase in visitor satisfaction.


Blue Hole Regional Park site plan.