Serene and ennobling, Michael Van Valkenburgh and Stanley Saitowitz’s Mill Race Park replaces what once was one a troubled area. The floodplain was the site of the Mooney Tannery in the 19th century and the “Death Valley” shantytown. The area first became a park in the 1960s. In 1993, landscape architect Van Valkenburgh completed a redesigned park that honored the site’s heritage and ecology while looking to the future. The Round Lake acts as the visual center to the water-dominated composition. Saitowitz designed the architectural elements, including an Observation Tower offering a view of Columbus’ downtown architecture.
Another Circle by Aranda\Lasch responds to the strong formal and architectural elements already present in Mill Race Park, using 2,800 pieces of salvaged Indiana limestone to tie together the round lake, the People Trail, and the river with a new 3.5 acre stone circle. While the design hearkens back to ancient henges and modern earthworks, its primary goal is to articulate fields of activity for contemporary park visitors. Within the circle, stones are placed, stacked or arrayed to create a theater, a beach, a riverfront and areas for games and relaxation: a loose gathering of function inside a scattering of stone.
Rachel Hayes’ Chroma Connection uses ripstop nylon to create a structure that appears to be built out of pure color. Twisting as it rises out of the stream, a series of waving banners flows up and through the covered bridge before expanding and cascading into the Round Lake at the heart of Mill Race Park. The sights and sounds of the waving expanse of fabric casting colored shadows over wood and water makes a new space out of familiar park features, a space to be experienced from many angles and with many senses.