The second phase of Veterans Memorial Park in Davenport provides a “fabulous story-telling opportunity” and a “landscape to commemorate and celebrate” veterans with a monument.
Those were among the views Friday of five designers wanting to create a monument for the park.
A 13-member panel of Davenport city staff, aldermen and community members heard pitches from five design firms, providing their qualifications and concepts for the park space just west of the Marquette Street boat landing on the Mississippi riverfront.
The design firms were trimmed from an original pool of 14, with the committee’s top choice to be announced by Feb. 15.
Phase II is projected to be a 30-foot-high mound with a veterans monument on top. The monument would complement the flag pole monument constructed in 2011.
“With Phase II, it is the city’s vision to create a timeless, lasting space with meaningful features that will stand out from traditional design and generate local and regional interest as a destination,” said Zach Peterson, the city’s project manager.
The committee heard from Hitchcock Design Group of Naperville, Ill.; RDG Planning and Design, Des Moines; RNL Design, Denver; Sasaki Associates, Watertown, Mass.; and Smith Group JJR, Madison, Wis. Each group was allotted 45 minutes to present its qualifications before fielding questions.
The designers know they have a big job ahead, from practical building decisions to creating an emotional and sensory experience, said Public Works director Mike Clarke, a U.S. Army veteran and chairman of the selection committee.
Veterans come from various experiences, while their families and other visitors with no military experience come from different backgrounds, too.
“We have to consider the spectrum of Americans when we consider building this iconic park,” Clarke said.
Alderman Bill Edmond, 2nd Ward, an Army veteran who is also a member of Friends of Veterans Memorial Park said the task of shortening the list from 14 to five was difficult.
“This is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made,” he said. “They all seem to grasp the meaning of service to their country.”
Alderman Gene Meeker, at large, agreed with his colleague, saying all five firms offer the qualifications and ideas the city wants.
“Any one of them would do a great job, no matter which we pick,” he said. “They got it, what we really want to do.”
Clarke and Edmond pointed out some of the construction challenges a design team would face with the project. The site at the foot of Marquette Street is in a flood zone, so utilities must be considered. as well as a structure or plantings that can resist being under water. The location is also the former city dump, so the ground may face stability issues for construction designers.
“It is spongy,” Edmond said. “There is going to be settling.”
The teams are being advised that the park will likely be built in multiple stages because of funding, with individual phases funded at no more than $500,000 each. City and private fundraising will go toward the cost.