Part I: Kellogg: Initial Design Inspirations
Our Kellogg project, in Wichita KS, will soon begin construction. The concepts presented in this blog document our initial work. The project started in 2007 and has changed significantly over those eight years. This series of posts will start with the initial design, show the redesign, and demonstrate how a consistent concept can drive quality design even when facing tough budget challenges.
The original plan called for series of highway interchanges and roadway improvements over five miles of highway. It included city entryway opportunities defining the City of Wichita from the county line to its east entry at Webb Road. The design featured Wichita’s heritage inspired by flight, wind and prairie. The work involves interdisciplinary collaborations between artists, engineers and landscape architects. The first segment included two gateway bridges with LED lighting, curved screening, and 400,000 sq.ft. of patterned retaining walls that carry wind and prairie motifs. Landscape is re-vegetated prairie with an emphasis on sustainability and rain harvesting.
The initial wall pattern, which has been further refined, takes its inspirations from Wichita’s prairie context. The wind rushing across prairie grasses creates two movements, a local bending of each blade, and the general rippling of the prairie surface. The rippling waves of grass create a subtle, gentle rhythm across the prairie landscape; a rhythm echoed by the large patterned expanses. The pattern incorporates and abstracts both the individual blade of bending grass and the larger gesture of a rippling windswept field.
Using a series of module panels creates great variation and interest through pattern development inspired by the windswept curves of the prairie. Turning the same pattern units sideways allows the walls along the elevated portions of roadway to evoke larger expanses of grassy fields bending and rippling in the wind. This reinforces the gesture and strength of the bridge abutments. The tremendous expression of movement in the patterns makes these walls vibrant and evocative when moving past.
This project separates Kellogg Road from the surrounding surfaces street to create a continuous highway with bridges, interchanges and frontage roads. These bridges became great opportunities to make gateway identity statements along the length of the highway. The bridges represent a marriage of Wichita’s historic bridges, prairie context, aeronautic tradition, and strength creating a beautiful coherent solution.
At the KTA and Webb Road bridges, translucent airfoil arches of perforated metal screen defined the span of the bridges, reminiscent of airplane airfoil and wing forms, adding lightness and lift. Held by a series of “mini tower” supports, the forms curved in three directions, shaping the space above and below. The screens became welcoming landmarks when entering the city from the east or coming on or off the KTA while defining nearby neighborhoods at Webb with a sophisticated and unique gesture. The overpasses became amenities to the community and the city as a whole. More information on the design process.
Natural ponds nestled between the gentle prairie hills inspired the swales along Kellogg in the planted areas. Using native plants allows for easy maintenance and sustainable irrigation practices while redeveloping the reference to the prairie. The contrast of prairie against mowed grass creates textural interest in the landscape balancing a maintained edge with a more natural boundary.
The disk elements frame the four corners of the Webb intersection and, as gateway features, they are welcoming and visually compelling. The disks serve as platforms for a composition connecting the language of the Webb Bridge with native plants in a variety of textures and colors. They are interesting at the scale of the Webb Road and at the level of the pedestrians who will engage the landscape at the intersection while walking by and around them to get to the nearby linear park that will be built with this project.
As the project developed, this initial design received significant design modifications. The next blog in this series will address these changes and how they affected the Webb road corridor. It will highlight how flexible design problem solving can meet a tight budget producing a viable cost effective alternative.