Case Study: Chastain Park Playground

The only public playground serving the 85,000 school-age children within a five-mile radius, the Chastain Park Playground had not been renovated since 2000 and was in dire need of an upgrade. The existing playground had a lot of deficiencies, primarily in that it only appealed to a small demographic (ages 5-12). Most of the play structures were too dangerous for smaller children, yet not challenging enough for older children.

While the Chastain Park Conservancy worked with play consultants and community school children to design all of the playground’s play structures, landscape architect Bill Caldwell was tasked with creating a site design that would make the most of the available space. To achieve this, Caldwell contracted renown water resources engineer consultant, Bill Jorden, to help develop the stormwater management plan to meet all of Atlanta’s stringent ordinances for stormwater runoff quality and quantity.
“Our goal was to not create a detention pond on a beautiful site of rolling hills and historic oak trees. I also didn’t want to have to convert the flat spaces currently used for open play. Belgard products helped us to avoid these traditional stormwater management strategies,”
Bill Caldwell / Landscape Architect
With the help of Belgard Urbana Stone® installed with permeable aggregates and Mega-Tandem™ Mass Segmental Retaining Wall (MSRW®), the team was able to conserve land, meet the stormwater requirements, and save a significant amount of money in the process. “Because the playground was being built into a hillside, the project required substantial retaining walls, which initially called for poured concrete. We got two Mega-Tandem walls for the price of one poured concrete wall. Also, using the Mega-Tandem allowed us to value-engineer the restroom pavilion and reduce the amount of poured concrete needed for the foundation. Overall, we saved over $200,000 on the project, factoring the cost savings on both the pavilion and the site walls,” Caldwell said.

In addition, more than 8,000 square feet of permeable walkways control the amount of rainwater runoff that rolls downhill, which alleviates erosion problems. “An impervious system would have caused a concentration of water flow to the lower elevations, which would have generated more runoff than the original site,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell also notes that the Belgard pavers and retaining walls allowed him to create the playground out of what was formerly unusable space. “I love the fact that we took a hillside with a 12- to 15-degree slope that was basically non-functional and turned it into a one-acre parkland that is a highly functional and usable space, and has become a high-value component of the park,” he said.

“We created something out of nothing.” And what Caldwell considers the best part… this playground was designed by kids for kids, regardless of age or abilities. The entire playground is ADA compliant, with multiple handicap accessible play elements.

“Even the texture of the paver walkway adds a sensory element for children with sensory disabilities, which is not something they would get with a smooth poured concrete sidewalk. Addressing disabilities of multiple spectrums was always part of the discussion from the beginning,” Caldwell said.