CIVIL ENGINEERING: Houston Facility will Enable Critical Water Rescue Training

HAZARD RESPONSE & MITIGATION

by Jay Landers

S2O Design & Engineering was part of a feature article about the Regional Response Operations Center now under construction in Houston, Texas. S2O Design is leading the design and construction of this a state-of-the-art swift-water and urban-water rescue training facility.

Read the full article here.

 

 

 

John Gregory’s ICF Podcast: ‘Scott Shipley on Slalom Course Design”

International Canoe Federation (ICF) podcast host John Gregory chats with S2O Design founder Scott Shipley about whitewater course design, RapidBlocks, and the way in which canoe slalom and paddlesport park venues have evolved.

Listen here – https://icfslalom.libsyn.com/scott-shipley-on-slalom-course-design – or wherever you get your podcasts!

Wave of enthusiasm builds as $50 million whitewater park breaks ground in Montgomery

from Montgomery Advertiser
June 10, 2021

How do you turn a storm into a chamber of commerce day? Add $50 million worth of water.

Government officials, military leaders, business executives and representatives of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians exchanged smiles and hugs in a downpour Thursday as they cheered the official start of construction on a $50 million, government-backed whitewater park and outdoor center here. It’s a project that originally was announced two years ago as a complex public-private partnership, led by Montgomery County, and the expected opening was delayed as those deals shifted during the pandemic.

Those meeting in the rain Thursday praised a tenacity and spirit of collaboration in reaching the groundbreaking event. “We are Republicans and Democrats with the same vision,” Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean said. “… They care about making Montgomery… a whole better place to live in.”

The park expects to open in summer 2023 on a 120-acre site between Maxwell Air Force Base and Interstate 65. A pump-powered channel will carry kayakers along a man-made course that winds around a restaurant, shops, an amphitheater and many other amenities. Other planned attractions include a water slide zip line tower visible from the interstate, a biking trail and even a beach area with cabanas.

The city of Montgomery is donating land to the project and has worked to reach an arrangement on a new facility for the Salvation Army, which still has a shelter on the site. Mayor Steven Reed said the Salvation Army “has the final details of the contract now” and that he expects that deal to close soon. That site would not be involved in phase one of construction.

Alabama Power Vice President Leslie Sanders said the property started with 58 different land owners, and the city was able to negotiate all of those deals successfully. “There is no project of this magnitude that does not have challenges every day,” Sanders said. “… A lot of people still think it’s a whitewater amusement park. It takes explaining, and it takes perseverance.”

Boat paddles to be used for shovels during the groundbreaking ceremony for the whitewater park and outdoor fun center in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday June 10, 2021.

The construction work ahead is just as daunting, as is the aggressive two-year timeline.

Phase one alone includes a 310,000-square-foot channel for the whitewater course, a system to filter and manage 18 million gallons of water a year, 40,000 square feet of restaurants, retail and other buildings, and more. Senior project manager Jeffrey Gustin of Southern Whitewater Development Group said the first seven to eight months will be spent on site work and prep.

Former Olympian Scott Shipley designed the U.S. National Whitewater Center in North Carolina as well as the 2012 Olympic venue. Shipley has spent the past few months working on a scale test model of the Montgomery facility in the Czech Republic. He said it required him to get special permission from the Czech government to enter the country during the pandemic.

“This will be the most modern whitewater park in the world when it opens in 2023,” Shipley said. “We want to be able to bring international competitors here and have that Olympic standard course, but we also want to make the hurdle to getting your church groups, and your school groups, and your family and friends out on that whitewater much lower.”

Scott Shipley, President S2o Design and Engineering, speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the whitewater park and outdoor fun center in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday June 10, 2021.

Shipley said they’ll offer two channels — one Olympic standard and one for “families to explore whitewater for the first time.”

A local board called the Montgomery County Community Cooperative District was formed to oversee construction, and in April it named JESCO Inc. the general contractor for the project. JESCO also was involved in the construction of Riverwalk Stadium, the Montgomery Regional Airport and several other showpiece projects across central Alabama.

The Municipal: “Poudre River Project Strikes the Right Balance”

The City of Fort Collins, Colo., and its community members had a dream: the revitalization of the Cache la Poudre River corridor. With the river passing through the city’s downtown, it was an invaluable asset that simply needed rediscovering.

View full article here: The Municipal_Jan_21

 

Civil + Structural Engineer

Downtown Denver’s largest mixed-used development, The River Mile, has tapped S2O Design and Engineering to lead a signature component of this complex, dynamic restoration of the heralded South Platte River. Spearheaded by developer Revesco Properties, this one-of-a-kind neighborhood — comprising 62 acres and ultimately up to 15 million square feet of commercial and residential property — will reconnect the city to its iconic urban waterway, improving riparian and aquatic habitat, flood control, and recreation access.

“With $80 million in federal matching funds, river restoration is the project’s fundamental purpose, and it will be one of the most significant river restorations ever undertaken by a private enterprise, anywhere,” says Gregory V. Murphy, president of Calibre Engineering, The River Mile’s civil engineer. “S2O is helping us develop a design solution that’s in alignment with all the stakeholders’ interests.”

Since 1860, the South Platte River has been highly impacted by urban development. In a major commitment by the developer, in partnership with the City of Denver, the Greenway Foundation, and other environmental experts, the project’s goal is to return the river to a more natural state ecologically and physically. The effort will incorporate sustainability, aquatic and riparian habitat enhancements, and flood control along a more than 1-mile-long stretch of this valuable waterway. The project will also improve recreational access via a trail system leading to new fishing and paddling features. The restoration will add 27 acres of riverside parks and open spaces while energizing this new downtown neighborhood.

A leader in river restoration and development, S20 Design brings a unique expertise in integrating recreation into river restoration efforts. Led by engineer and three-time Olympian Scott Shipley, S2O Design has designed and engineered a variety of highly successful in-stream recreation projects and has served as lead designer of some of the world’s most high-profile whitewater recreation and competition venues.

“We are honored to work with such a talented team in restoring and revitalizing this vital natural resource for Denver,” says Shipley. “We are working with some of the early visionaries in urban floodway restoration including the Greenway Foundation and the Mile-High Flood District. This project will set a new standard in how to approach and realize environmental and flood enhancements while also prioritizing human interaction with the river for recreation and relaxation.”

Restoration efforts will improve this section of the river’s in-stream habitat and its riparian and wetland corridor, with fish benefitting from a fully connected habitat throughout the reach and the removal of thousands of tons of silt and sand. The team will replace the existing floodway configuration with a more natural restoration that will create a narrower, deeper low-flow channel. It will also aid in moving sediment better, which helps prevent flooding, but will also provide cooler water for fish habitat and the opportunity for a multi-stage channel with a vibrant riparian zone.

“S2O Design brings the technical expertise with hydraulic modeling, stream restoration, and recreation design needed to make this project a success,” says Heather Houston, President and Senior Ecologist at Birch Ecology. “They have done a great job of listening and facilitating conversations to realize a successful outcome.”

In the past two years, S20 Design has completed in-channel river parks on the Poudre River in Fort Collins, Colo.; the Arkansas River in Canon City, Colo.; the Eagle River in Eagle, Colo.; and the Boise Whitewater Park in Boise, Idaho.

About S2O Design and Engineering
Known for “reinventing whitewater,” Lyons, Colo.-based S2O Design and Engineering specializes in innovative river engineering, restoration, and community-focused whitewater park design. Our team of expert boater-engineers has planned, conceived, designed, and created some of the best in-stream whitewater parks as well as largest and most dynamic recirculating whitewater parks in the world. S2O Design is led by Scott Shipley, a three-time Olympian and three-time World Cup Kayak Champion. For more information, visit S2ODesign.com

Paddling Life: “Boise Gets Rockin’ Whitewater Park Expansion”

BY EUGENE BUCHANAN
August 1, 2019

Located in the middle of downtown on the Boise River, Phase II of the Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation Boise Whitewater Park, designed by S2O Design, officially opened to great paddling panache with a standing- (and surfing-) room only crowd on the river’s banks downtown.

Surf’s up in Boise, thanks to Phase II opening at the Boise Whitewater Park, built by S2O Design.

Already close to some of the best whitewater in the country, Boise, Idaho, is now giving paddlers (and surfers) another reason to visit the Gem State: a gem of a whitewater park, whose second phase celebrated its official gran opening and ribbon-cutting on July 25.

With The first phaseof the park already a huge hit with surfers, kayakers and spectators, Phase II, which Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway says is a great addition to the existing park, adds additional in-stream, adjustible features, employing S20’s patented Rapid-Bloc technology.

“It’s a great addition and extension to the existing whitewater park,” says S20 founder and president Scott Shipley, who attended the opening ceremonies to surf the wave himself. “It’s a perfect river and location for this type of park, which should become a great focal point for the town.”

Phase II includes three purpose-built wave features, as well as a rock formation creating additional rapids. The new wave features, spaced 25 to 50 yards apart, allows users to put in at the start of the existing park and circle back through Esther Simplot Park ponds and into Quinn’s Pond, back near the start.

Holloway says the entire park is now “an aquatic complex” that includes spectator seating and Greenbelt paths along both sides of the river between Esther Simplot Park and Veterans Park Pond. “It’s kind of almost two parks in one,” Holloway said.

The park was designed to provide tubers, paddlers and surfers of all levels an environment conductive to recreational and competitive paddling, viewing, and access. The uppermost feature—tested via a

1:4.5 Froude-scaled model constructed in a flume at the University of Idaho Modeling Lab—is designed to be adjustable and to be transformable from a wave to a hole, for surfers and kayakers.

“The model allowed us to create a hydraulic similarity between simulated flows and those in the proposed channel, as well as test and profile varying geometries,” says Shipley, a three-time Olympian and three-time World Cup slalom kayak champion.“The lab could calibrate incoming flow velocities to those predicted by a 2D model, fine-tune tail-water elevation via the adjustable RapidBlocs system, and create a final wave configuration that’s usable by surfers and kayakers and is adjustable across a wide range of flows and hydraulic conditions.”

All we know is that — like the nearby North  and South Forks just a stone’s throw away — it’s a gem of a piece of whitewater.

Curbed.com: “How riverfront recreation can reboot rural communities”

BY PATRICK SISSON
May 7, 2019, 12:47pm EDT
Property Lines is a column by Curbed senior reporter Patrick Sisson that spotlights real estate trends and hot housing markets across the country. 

Article on Curbed.com

Eagle, Colorado—population 6,500—has mostly existed in the shadows of the state’s massive ski resorts, as in nearby Vail, and its recreational economy. But Eagle, a year-round community for those who work for the big resorts, has plenty to offer, including mountain scenery, a picturesque downtown, and 100 miles of easily accessible mountain biking trails. In spite of all this, it has never become a top-tier destination.

This can be attributed in part to the fact that Eagle never truly took advantage of its natural assets, like its namesake river, which formed the valley that is home to the town today. Fishermen and kayakers have always made use of the Eagle River, but it’s never been a beacon for visitors, despite its high-profile location along the Interstate 70 corridor.

“A stretch of land next to the river used to be a semi-truck parking lot, basically a pee bottle dumping station,” says Jeremy Gross, the town’s marketing and events manager. “It just wasn’t that inviting.”

That’s set to change this Memorial Day weekend, when the town of Eagle will celebrate the opening of a $2.7 million whitewater park locals hope will set off a new era of development in the area, and connect the south bank of the river with businesses and residents downtown. The new Eagle River whitewater park is the result of a multiyear effort to redevelop the river corridor, and will feature a series of artificial rapids, as well as a resculpted, repurposed riverfront, complete with parks and an amphitheater.

It will be the latest example of how smaller towns and cities see riverfronts in general, and outdoor recreation specifically, as new economic catalysts. Former assistant town planner Matt Gross went so far as to call the new park “Eagle’s beachfront.”

“This is just our way of showcasing the asset that we have,” says Gross. “It’s not like we added the river.”

Scott_Shipley
Scott Shipley of S20 during construction of the Eagle River Whitewater Park. “We can give them an experience they didn’t have before. Just by doing a little bit of manipulation of that river, they can become the Breckenridge of kayaking.” Eugene Buchanan

Natural assets get a new lease on life

The Eagle River Whitewater Park is part of a growing number of artificial recreation areas, especially in the Rocky Mountains region, trying to capitalize on the nation’s rapidly growing outdoor economy. Eagle believes the new whitewater park can make the town a more well-rounded and attractive destination, furthering the potential of its promising location near mountain biking trails.

According to a 2017 economic study by the Outdoor Industry of America, activities like camping and water sports benefit America’s consumers, businesses, and government at all levels. These activities generate a whopping $887 billion annually—about $702 billion by travelers and vacationers—support nearly 8 million jobs, and bring in just over $59 billion in state and local tax revenue. For comparison, the entire nation’s financial services and insurance industry generates $912 billion.

Whitewater parks—either parks like Eagle’s that resurface and redesign riverbeds to support outdoor recreation like kayaking and rafting, or “pump parks” that create artificial new bodies of water for sport—represent a small part of the nation’s huge outdoor industry. They aren’t new: The world’s first artificial whitewater course, a concrete-channel course called the Eiskanal, was created for the 1972 Olympics in Munich, where the sport made its Olympic debut, and parks have slowly taken root across the western U.S. since the 1980s.

But now that the idea is firmly established, a number of case studies—including an urban development in Reno, Nevada, and the huge boost Charlotte, North Carolina, saw from a national whitewater training and recreation center—point to such parks’ economic benefits. They’re increasingly being seen as a development tool, not just another entertainment option.

In Eagle’s case, it’s a project for and by the community, says Scott Shipey, CEO of S2O, the company building the park. Shipley, a former world-champion kayaker who competed in three Olympics, says it’s not just a new way to build the sport, but a chance for towns to look at their natural economic assets. The town passed a .5 percent sales tax increase to fund the project.

“A lot of towns have a river running through them,” he says. “In the Midwest, there are dams near towns, which used to power industry, that are rotting away. We can give them an experience they didn’t have before. Just by doing a little bit of manipulation of that river, they can become the Breckenridge of kayaking. These mining and ski towns are starting to leverage this resource.”

Designed with Rapidblocs, a patented S2O system that allows for adjustable riverbeds and rapids, the Eagle Whitewater Park will feature spots for kayakers, rafters, tubers, and even surfers. The waterfront, now filled with parkland and public space, can host festivals and concerts, a big potential boost for businesses downtown.

“Economic development is a slow-moving ship,” says Gross. “Now, with a river park close to town, we’re hoping that increase in business brings the next business to town, and then a few more people, and then suddenly, there’s more development connecting the river to downtown. The river is a big thing we have to offer, it’s a piece of the pie.”

A kayaker on the Eagle River Whitewater Park. | Ken Hoeve

A new addition to beer, bluegrass, and broadband

The renewed push to repurpose riverfront property in more rural parts of the country mirrors what’s happening in urban areas like Brooklyn: With heavy industry and factories gone, games, recreation, and public space have taken their place—and become magnets for people and economic activity.

Projects like Eagle’s also come as community-building investments in culture have shown their value to smaller cities and towns, the anchors of rural economies. Matt Dunne, founder of the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI), says it’s all about bluegrass, beer, and broadband. Rebuilding formerly lively small-town centers with a combination of arts and culture, recreation, startups, and adaptive reuse has proven a winning formula across the country.

Existing projects demonstrate that these artificial rapids can really rev up local economies. In Charlotte, the U.S. National Whitewater Center, which opened on roughly 700 acres adjacent to the Catawba River, welcomes 1 million visitors a year, and supports more than 500 jobs. In Durango, Colorado, the whitewater park on the Lower Animas River generates $18 million a year in economic activity, according to an economic impact studycommissioned by local leaders.

Reno, Nevada, offers one of the best illustrations of how river redesign and urban regeneration can work together. The neighborhood around the Truckee River in downtown Reno had become neglected and crime-ridden (“they turned their back on the river, to keep people inside focused on casinos,” says Shipley). Since the $1.5 million whitewater park opened, the streets surrounding the recreation site have seen a boom in new condos, restaurants, bars, and businesses. A 2007 study by the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority found that whitewater recreation attracted 13 percent of the approximately 4.3 million people who visit the city annually.

“There wasn’t much down there before that, but now the downtown river park is a tourist destination,” Ben McDonald, senior communications manager for the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, told High County News.

“There are as many reasons to do this as there are potential parks,” says Shipley. “These parks have millions of dollars in economic impact.”

The plans for the Eagle River Whitewater Park, including parks and new green space along the riverbanks. Courtesy S2O

New developments in water sports

Shipley says the industry, which has steadily grown since he founded his company in 2005, will see more expansion. In addition to the soon-to-open Eagle project, S20 is also working on projects in Fort Collins, Colorado; Canon City, Colorado; and Boise, Idaho. The company’s Rapidblocs system will be used at the site of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and S2O expects more cities, especially in the Rocky Mountain region and the Midwest, to invest in new parks.

Other artificial water sports sites have become an option: Famed surfer Kelly Slater has a company dedicated to creating artificial inland surfing parks, including a site in California’s Central Valley. S2O is also looking at more surfing options, and plans to install new technology to support surfers as part of its ongoing work in Boise, Idaho.

For Eagle’s Jeremy Gross, the river that goes through his hometown has always had potential. But now, it’s more central to the growing Colorado community’s narrative.

“If I’m trying to sell Eagle to you, we’re a quick two hours to Denver, if you leave after work Friday you can be at Eagle by dinner time, and over the weekend, ride 100 miles of trail, bring a board or kayak and get in the river,” he says. “It’s becoming more of a well-rounded destination. We’re an outdoor adventure paradise.”