City Creek Center

During a recent visit to Salt Lake City, I had some time to check out an upscale outdoor mall in the heart of the city. I typically dislike shopping malls, especially the indoor variety, but even many of the newer open-air types are trying too hard to duplicate quaint old urban streets (and failing). City Creek Center’s site, designed by the landscape architecture firm, SWA Group, has a different focus: celebrating a stream that historically ran through the downtown area, most of which is now buried underground. Each of two sections of this mall (divided by a city street) includes a recirculating water feature that represents a creek and flows along the middle of the shopping center’s walkways. The streams also meander in some places and turn to follow perpendicular entrance corridors, terminating with waterfalls at the connecting streets. A variety of fountains (including an interactive ground-level set of jets) can also be found along the pedestrian areas, combining with the creek to provide a pleasant water-centric experience. This is one mall that I actually enjoyed visiting – not to shop, but to hang out with an iced coffee and take in the sights and sounds around me.
 
City Creek Center 1
The streams include numerous footbridges, most of which are made of decorative metal, as shown.
 
City Creek Center 2
Native trout inhabit several areas of the creeks.
 
City Creek Center 3
The recirculating creeks flow along the center of the walkways. Narrow slot drains on each side of the stream catch runoff from rainfall (one of which is visible in this photo). I have wondered how the mall handles snow removal, however.
 
City Creek Center 4
A wider section of creek
 
City Creek Center 5
A fountain accents one of the central intersections of the mall. Water on its opposite side falls in a sheet off the rim, contrasting with the stepped edge on this side.
 
City Creek Center 6
Another interesting fountain at City Creek Center
 
City Creek Center 7
The site design takes advantage of the area’s sloping topography, with a waterfall flowing into the mall from South Temple Street.
 
City Creek Center 8
A recirculating waterfall also flows from the mall to the adjoining street south of the site.
 
City Creek Center 9
Nature-themed fencing and chairs adorn the sidewalks on either side of the street that splits the mall. These areas were designed as part of the project.
 
Photos by Alice Webb

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Water Features in the Landscape

Aside from inducing a sense of calm, moving water tends to have a psychologically cooling effect, and it softens or masks surrounding noise. In the built landscape, it can be incorporated in many ways. Examples below illustrate some of that variety: a few of these features are meant to be interactive while others are not; several of them emphasize the water, which is more subtle or secondary in other cases; and some were designed to mimic nature whereas others are geometric in pattern or form. In all cases, the inclusion of water clearly adds to the appeal of these outdoor spaces.

Water feature 1
Playful jets in Place des Festivals, Montreal, Quebec

Water feature 2
Waterfall in the Split Basin, CityGarden, St. Louis, Missouri

Water feature 3
Rock wall resembling natural strata with water seeping out, Teardrop Park, New York City

Water feature 4
Fountain in the Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon

Water feature 5
Interactive fountain in Portland, Oregon, that alternates between jets and mist

Water feature 6
Sculpture with trickling water in the Rose Test Garden, Portland, Oregon

Water feature 7
Water feature in Portland, Oregon

Water feature 8
Waterfall and channel, Chinatown Park, Boston

Water feature 9
Mosaic fountain, Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, Miami Beach, Florida

Water feature 10
Planter with falling water in a courtyard, Miami Beach, Florida
 
All photos by Alice Webb, except the following:
Photo with bear sculptures/fountain in Portland, Oregon, by Nancy Novell