Mill Race Park

Mill Race Park

Mill Race Park is located on an active floodplain at the confluence of two rivers in Columbus, Indiana. Prior to the construction of the park, the site was cut off from adjacent business and residential districts by railroad tracks. Community members had spent many years blazing informal trails across the property, but the site remained a swath of feral landscape subject to annual flooding, sometimes reaching depths of up to 10 feet.

Rather than attempt to prevent high water events, MVVA’s design integrates this annual rhythm into the experience of the site.

Affordable and durable materials allowed the park to be built and maintained efficiently. The fill from excavating Round Lake was reused on site as an earthen amphitheater and berms around the basketball court.

Many of the paved surfaces are made of reinforced concrete instead of asphalt, which typically deteriorates in a flood. The steel and glass block restroom walls are raised to allow flood waters to flow under them; the playground is elevated on an expansive earth platform; and the amphitheater stage is nestled into the protected higher ground of the crescent landform.

Plantings include hardy native species like grasses that can weather drought and trees that can withstand saturated soils.