Designing Whitewater Parks

Whitewater Park Design
Whitewater Park Design

Part of the process:  Michael Williams, Design Process

A quick discussion from Michael Williams about the process of Designing Whitewater Parks.

Liquid Design was the project lead for the design team on the Charlotte Whitewater Park.  We were directly responsible for the project management and coordination of over 24 various consultants and specialty consultants for the design and construction administration of the U.S. National Whitewater Center located in Charlotte, North Carolina.  We were also the master planner for the 350 acre site and the architect of record for all building structures.

These projects are mammoth undertakings.  Project management is the key element.  You must have someone efficiently guiding the process that has experience in leading it and you need team members that can work as a part of that team—doing their part on time and helping the remainder of the team to do their parts.  The reality of this project type is that not everyone truly knows what the end result will be.  For example the Pump consultant is good at what they do on a daily basis—they move the water from the bottom pond to the top.  However, they really don’t understand what that means when you have to use the pump system to move over 1,000 people on rafts.  That is why experience in this project type is so critical.  This process is about understanding the holistic design solution and ensuring that the client gets what he’s paying for that is so important.

One consultant that you do not want designing in the dark is the whitewater engineer.  That is why S2O was a key part of the process and a part of our lead design team.  They understood the holistic design solution and exactly how the whitewater components fit into it.  From day one they helped shape and mold design decisions that made the product better.   Their high-tech team provided not only drawings that actually could be built but their design solutions worked, critical for clients who are ready to start producing revenue.  Also, their use of state-of-the art and industry standard software allowed us to share design documents so that final assembly was easy, accurate and timely.

I was so impressed with S2O’s work ethic and creative vision that when they ask me to join their global team I signed up without hesitation.  It didn’t hurt that I love this unique project type and working with S2O allows me to work with talented individuals who share this same passion.

Michael Williams

Liquid Design / S2o

The Future for Whitewater Parks, both in-stream / river diversions and man-made “superparks”, is bright.  The following is a small list of what I think will be key elements for future whitewater park development;

  • Incorporation of Green Technologies / Sustainability into the design—this is the wave of the future.
  • Interwoven in the Existing Urban Landscape to create a lifestyle park that accommodates outdoor enthusiasts in an urban setting.
  • Adaptable and updateable innovation:  The technology of the sports themselves will evolve and become more dynamic.  Systems like the new Rapidbloc ( system allow for state-of-the-art channels far into the future.

Uniqueness:  Just by the nature of competition the parks will have to have the longest, fastest, and biggest of something for customer retention.