WPL Blog 2017-07-25T20:54:15+00:00

What’s Up with the Virginia Aquarium?

WPL Landscape Architect, Mike Fox takes on the Course!

WPL Landscape Architect, Mike Fox takes on the Course!

In Virginia Beach, the latest and greatest outdoor resort phenom just opened up– literally! Up in the trees – the grand opening for The Adventure Park at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center took place Friday, May 30th as many eager faces anticipated climbing through one of nine different ropes courses and over 20 varying levels of zip-lines. The mayor commissioned the park while standing fifteen feet above ground on the main tree platform and then bravely proceeded to be the first to climb up to what seemed to be a medium-to-difficult level course. Other dignitaries and aquarium staff soon followed his example. Guests not only came to witness the opening but also to suit up with harnesses, safety lanyards, and gloves in order to try it for themselves. The Virginia Pilot does a great job recounting this opening.
Signs mark each course with their level of difficulty, similar to a ski slope, and, as if the safety briefings and training were not enough, dozens of course assistants in orange shirts stand by ready to help. Each course links from tree platform to tree platform at various heights via steel cables, each cable segment posing various challenging elements. One segment may require a contender to balance on the end of logs, while another may present a narrow bridge to cross. Some segments comprise only a simple cable to which people can clip their pulley and zip-line for several hundred feet across the marsh.

Adventure Park at the Virginia Aquarium Masterplan

Adventure Park at the Virginia Aquarium Masterplan

“It’s nice to see this attraction get built so quickly,” remarked Jarrod Katzer, a landscape architect at WPL who was closely involved in seeing the project design come to completion. This isn’t the first time WPL engaged with the concept of the aerial forest park. In 2010, they teamed with EDSA and Cambridge 7 Associates, among others, to masterplan the Virginia Aquarium and Owl Creek watershed. The concept of an aerial forest park was one of many ideas put forth to the aquarium staff in the plan.

The Aquarium solicited formal proposals from reputable aerial ropes course builders. Through various connections, WPL was fortunate enough to team with Kema Geroux and Outdoor Ventures as the preferred design / build team selected for this undertaking.

WPL surveyed the seven-acre park site, and they helped Outdoor Ventures to design the park so that patrons could gain an incredible experience over Owl Creek’s tidal waterways. The family-friendly park aims to bring more aquarium visitors outdoors and to offer them a unique way to appreciate the natural environment.

This park truly is a challenging and rewarding experience for all ages and a great addition to the Virginia Aquarium and the Virginia Beach community. With so much momentum from the Adventure Park, what other compelling elements of the Aquarium’s master plan might be next?

The New Floyd E. Kellam High School

The design team is extremely happy and proud as the new Kellam High School opened its doors on January 27th, 2014.  The 349,350 square foot project was completed three months ahead of schedule and offers learning spaces designed for 21st century skills based curriculum.  Some of the features include nine rainwater collection cisterns used to irrigate playing fields, an educational courtyard, two axillary gyms, eight lighted tennis courts, two outdoor and three indoor basketball courts and a lighted 4,500 seat stadium with synthetic turf football/soccer field.

As the most unique and sustainable school currently in the state of Virginia, students and teachers will quickly adapt these new sustainable features.  Not only was the building designed to withstand a category II hurricane, the operational savings will surpass all other conventionally constructed schools where integrated energy, water and related system efficiencies were used. WPL designed and helped to implement reforestation buffers, rain gardens, green roofs and rainwater catchment and reuse on site. 

This project is a great representation of how WPL’s team of landscape architects, civil engineers and land surveyors acted as a cohesive team to make this project exceptional among other schools in this region.

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By | January 28th, 2014|Categories: WPL Blog|Tags: , , |0 Comments