In the Vine City neighborhood outside of downtown Atlanta, a few city blocks faced a persistent threat. Filled with the modest homes of the neighborhood’s primarily Black community, this area was the low point in a 150-acre drainage shed. During storms, when water from the entire neighborhood rushed down into the combined sewer and stormwater system, the area would regularly flood. It got so bad that by the early 2000s, the city decided to buy up the most vulnerable 60 homes and tear them down.
With an average annual rainfall of about 50 inches, the problem was not necessarily solved. So the city of Atlanta and the Trust for Public Land teamed up to find a new use for the space. They hired global design, planning, and landscape architecture firm HDR to design a park for the land—the kind of open space that wouldn’t upend people’s lives if it got a little too wet.