Trends Summer 2016 | Page 2

“We try to have some sort of custom element in every project. I feel pretty strongly that all of our pads should have some individual character,” said Theisen, who designed the Lakeview Park splashpad in Middleton, one of the first in Wisconsin and often regarded as the standard for splashpad design in the state. He also has two complete, customdesigned splashpad lines in an international aquatic play equipment manufacturer’s catalog. ACCOMMODATING USERS CREATIVELY T he campground-themed splashpad at Blue Mound State Park is really making a splash with its patrons. And how could it not, considering how chock full of fun water features the southern Wisconsin splashpad is filled with? Among them are a 14-foot-tall, campfirethemed interactive spray feature, a double-sized tent aimed to soak kids as they shoot through it, water cannons painted to look like chipmunks and squirrels, and giant pine trees that rain water, all guaranteed to keep kids cool – and entertained – all summer long. Popular splashpads enhance aquatic activities available to park patrons By Jennifer Schmidt 2│TRENDS “We are really proud of it. I think this is one of the only splashpads like this in the country,” said Missy VanLanduyt, capital development specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), which oversees development in the state park system. “It’s gorgeous, and we get a lot of really good comments from our users. It turned out even better than what we had anticipated.” Blake Theisen of Ayres Associates served as project manager and lead designer and confirmed that the splashpad at Blue Mound State Park – the only Wisconsin state park to have one – indeed features unique elements. As with every splashpad he designs, Theisen made sure he listened to the client’s and community’s needs and used that information to find the essence of the site it was going into. VanLanduyt shepherded the Blue Mound project from inception to completion and served as a liaison between the WDNR administration and staff and the project team of WDNR and DOA project managers, contractors, and the design team. Noting that the primary users of their property were families for camping, she said both Theisen and civil engineer Katie MacDonald “hit the mark” in giving them a one-of-akind project that stayed within their mission, maintained a recreation- and nature-based focus, and catered to people of all ages. “It can be challenging to put something so non-natural into a natural state park environment. They did such a good job of listening to us on wanting to blend the natural in the unnatural world by putting in the camping theme along with the style and the colors. The overall design of the space really blends well with the landscape,” she said, sharing how a small wading pool and an adjacent – and dated – 4,000-squarefoot swimming pool were in the space before the splashpad and new swimming pool were installed. Ayres also designed a new pool as part of the facility reconstruction project. VanLanduyt said she appreciated how Theisen and MacDonald were on-site often and “continually went above and beyond for the project.” They made sure the WDNR remained on budget as the project progressed and were responsive when issues arose, such as unsuitable soils uncovered during construction. “That was a big challenge for us – and especially for Katie at Ayres to do a lot of redesign and calculating to be able to know which soils were coming out, which new soils had to be put back in, and what they were made up of,” VanLanduyt said. She appreciated how Theisen and MacDonald worked diligently with the contractor to see that the project was completed ahead of schedule by Memorial Day, the unofficial kickoff to summer for campers. “I always felt like this was their project in their backyard,” said VanLanduyt, who frequents the splashpad with her 4- and 2-year-old daughters and was there for opening weekend this year, Memorial Day. “I felt like they really were advocating for the DNR with the contractor and throughout the design. I felt like they just really cared about it. It was very personal to them.” TRENDS │3