A love song to life on the prairie, knitting a new community together.
The shortgrass prairie of the Colorado Plains is simultaneously beautiful, subtle, serene and enigmatic. With its open vistas, textured grasses, clear blue skies and electric sunsets, the presence of trees signals a precious water source. Envisioned as an anchor to the community of Aurora, High Prairie Park is a love song to the prairie landscape and to the adventurous spirit of the people who have moved to live here over hundreds and thousands of years.
Situated along the natural ridgeline of the community, the park provides panoramic views to the Rockies from Longs to Pikes Peaks. Straddling the high point, a thousand-foot long promenade joins community gardens, a butterfly habitat garden, picnic pavilions, vintage ski lift swings, a sand beach and a designed arroyo playscape.
Biodiverse and drought tolerant gardens weave artfully with targeted gathering lawns and shade trees to negotiate grade changes from the promenade to the planted stormwater channel below, providing a cohesive community resource that is sensitive to our climate, and offering numerous circuits for strolling and refuge for prairie fauna.
A range of playground and nature play features, including four custom play zones built by Beanstalk Builders out of reclaimed barnwood and sustainably sourced black locust, provide an endless network of adventure that promotes health and wellness.
Tracking historic patterns of agriculture and engineering, the design marks the center of an irrigation pivot near the park entry with a sculptural art piece and an arced path along the quarter-mile radius it would extend to cover and water the land. Smaller pivot circle gardens emanate from the arc and are filled with unique garden rooms including, vibrant wildflower meadows, lawn games, lounge chairs, tables and chairs for picnics and a fantastical shade sail for cover on a warm afternoon.
Completed in 2020, High Prairie Park has already attracted new populations of native birds, butterflies and prairie frogs to mingle with residents and park visitors. Revealing its wild prairie context, the park design honors the challenges and patterns of cultivation in the prairie while creating a new form of community open space.
Diane Lipovsky served as Project Leader and Project Manager for the design team while employed as a landscape architect at Civitas.