Des Peres Lake: SWT Design - 2011 Excellence Award

Overall Project Summary:

The Des Peres Park Lake improvements were proposed during the public master planning process for Des Peres Park.  The lake serves as a shared storm water detention basin for Des Peres Park and an adjacent corporate campus of the Edward Jones Investment Company.  When the corporation expanded its campus, the detention basin also needed to grow.  The Lake enlargement and improvements provided a singular opportunity for the City to convert the highly engineered element into a uniquely beautiful, passive recreation amenity that would improve Des Peres Park while meeting the needs of the corporation and the governing Sewer District’s stringent storm water management regulations.  Des Peres Park is at the heart of the City’s park system.  It is an extremely active Park and very important to the community.  Des Peres Lake is a key to the park’s popularity.  A successful expansion of the lake was critical for the City, the Sewer District, and the adjacent corporate campus.


Role of the Landscape Architect:


The landscape architect was the lead designer and project manager on a team of civil and structural engineers. The primary role of the landscape architect was to act as the City’s advocate during the rigorous design process with the Sewer District and its engineers.  The District’s engineers were implementing a new set of regulations designed to sustainably treat storm water.  The landscape architect successfully bridged the gap between engineer and park user enabling a functional facility to be constructed while also developing an amenity with a natural aesthetic.  The landscape architect guided the overall design of the detention facility to ensure its appeal while meeting facility requirements for detention.  After initial design of the lake, the landscape architect developed construction documents and led construction observation of the project while serving as liaison to the client, contractor, and community.

Special Factors & Significance:

Des Peres Lake is an asset to the Park and to the corporation adjacent to the Park, but its significance to the sustainability movement in the City, community and region are unparalleled.  The educational opportunities provided by the cooperative improvement and the storm water management capabilities of the project make it an integral part of the region’s budding sustainable design movement.


Because the Lake was being developed using the Sewer District’s new sustainable regulations, the City saw an opportunity to educate the community about: the importance of sustainable design; native ecologies; the benefits of aquatic and mesic vegetation related to water treatment, purification, and conservation; and wildlife habitat enhancement.  All site design elements were developed with a focus on education, including: seating areas constructed of large natural boulders for contemplation; special paving marked with native animal tracks for investigation; a boardwalk engaging the water’s edge for exploration; and a native plant palette to aid water infiltration and beautify the Lake.


The renovation of Des Peres Lake into a state-of-the-art storm water management facility is another of its significant factors.  The use of fore-bays as water treatment was a new concept in the region.  Off-site water coming to the Lake by pipe is filtered into a fore-bay.  The vegetated area captures sediment and sludge before it can be pushed into the Lake.  It is separated from the lake by a nearly invisible weir.  Sediment remains there until it is physically cleared out during scheduled maintenance.  This process minimizes impact on the Lake, disturbance to site amenities and ecological enhancements.  The edge of Des Peres Lake was once lined with ecologically insensitive rip-rap, inhibiting users from enjoying the lake and minimizing the treatment of the overland flow of storm water.  Improvements allowed the rip-rap to be relocated to the bottom of the Lake.  The edges of the Lake were re-shaped and native vegetation was installed to treat overland flow and provide enhanced animal habitat.  The new edges of the lake are lined with boulder seating walls and fishing perches so visitors can engage the Lake and natural habitat.  

2010 Chapter Sponsor Appreciation Video