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Legacy Park at University Town Center, Norman, Oklahoma
Steve Kelly, LASN editor
Landscape Architecture by Howard-Fairbairn Site Design, Oklahoma City
Fountain Design and Engineering by Delta Fountains


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Turf covered earthen berms on the east side of Legacy Park in Norman, Okla., descend to flagstone paver accents and decorative 15' tall steel metal gateway arbors, low seat walls and a landscaped vehicular drop-off area bordered on either side by an alignment of lighted bollards. Past the large masonry pedestals is the stage. The berms on the west side of the park help muffle the nearby I-35 traffic noise, while adding some topographical interest and a softening juxtaposition to the site's hardscapes.
Photo: Ricky Barnard


Norman, Oklahoma (pop. 118,040) is situated in the center of the panhandle state, about 20 miles south of downtown Oklahoma City. The history of Oklahoma is noteworthy for being part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase from France, and for the sorry history of the U.S. Government resettling the Five Civilized Tribes there. Treaties in 1832 and 1833 relegated the Creek Nation to what today is the Norman area.

It was the famous 1889 land rush of "unassigned lands," however, that brought settlers in droves to the area, and it was the land surveyor of that time, Abner Norman, for which the city was named. Edna Ferber's 1929 novel, Cimarron, relates the stories of those pioneers.

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The stage, located on the east side of the pond, is covered by a tensile membrane structure (Span Systems Inc.). The grass amphitheater can accommodate up to 1,200 people. For the Legacy Park ribbon cutting on Sept. 17, 2015, the Normand Philharmonic's brass and percussion sections took the stage to perform Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," an appropriate piece, given Oklahoma's 1889 land rush roots.
Photo by Madison Howard


Fast-forward to 2008 and the design of Legacy Park in Norman by the landscape architecture firm Howard-Fairbairn Site Design, and Delta Fountains. The park project, however, had a construction hiatus, one of the many effects of the Great Recession. While that recession officially ended in June 2009, the park remained dormant. The daily reminder of the unfinished park was the "Dirt Mound," the locals' apt description for the mountainous pile of soil on the park site. Finally, in late 2012, the park project was revived and completed in just over two years.

Legacy Park sits in the heart of the University North Park shopping district. This 2-mile TIF (tax increment financing) District was established by city ordinance after extensive public input and hearings. The district is bounded by I-35, Westheimer Airport, and Robinson and Tecumseh streets in the area of Norman that was a U.S. Naval Base ("North Base") during WWII.

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The 16 stainless steel air cannons form an arc in the pond facing the stage on the east side. Being out in the water, these fountains posed the most engineering demands. The challenges included running enough air pressure and electricity to the 16 smooth bore nozzles and to the waterproof RGB LEDs, whose networks are more than 1,000 feet from the water's edge. The fountain team's solutions included redesigning an air manifold to handle that distance. Electrical solenoid valves were employed for greater pressure control from the manifold to the cannon assemblies and for individual actuation of each air/cannon assembly.
Photo: Ricky Barnard


The park acts as a multiuse community event and recreation center. An architectural entrance welcomes visitors to an open promenade, running trails, a nearly 1,000-person amphitheater and stage, with room for future restaurants and retail locations. The heart of the park, however, is the nearly one-acre lake that the promenade encircles. Delta Fountains designed and engineered the mechanical and electrical aspects of all the water features within the lake, and then updated the designs in 2012 to incorporate new technology not available for the original park design.

The lake's most prominent water features are the crescent of air cannons near the middle of the basin, and the cascading water scuppers built into the masonry columns. Smaller, more understated air diffusers and submersible aerator snorkels run out to the farthermost corners of the lake to oxygenate and stir the water to and promote a healthier pool environment.

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Maintaining the air cannons out in the pond was going to be a problem; the solution was to place each air cannon assembly on a stand mounted to the basin floor. The cannon components and smooth bore nozzles are thus above the water surface, allowing easier access for regular servicing.
Night shot: Ricky Barnard


The four feature elements - air cannons, cascading water scuppers, air diffusers and submersible aerator snorkels - are connected beneath the water's surface by a custom Delta air manifold. This allows the scroll air compressor and spin clean strainers to pull water from the air compressor, reverse the flow to clean the system of excess debris and allow enough air pressure to travel through the entire length of the one-acre pool. It also allows for distribution of water to each of the four feature elements with enough pressure to support the systems throughout the day, and during the multiple water and RGB LED light shows.

While all four features are connected to the same network, they each posed challenges for the team because of the size of the pool. The cannons required the most engineering demands, as they are located in the middle of the lake. The designers needed to house the cannon assemblies to allow for regular maintenance, and to run enough air pressure and electricity to the custom stainless steel air cannons, smooth bore nozzles and waterproof RGB LED lights, whose networks are more than 1,000 feet from the water's edge. The Delta Fountains team members overcame these special location factors by designing stands to sit above the water's surface, and by redesigning a Delta Air manifold to allow for the length needed. Each air cannon assembly sits on a stand mounted to the basin floor. The cannon assembly components and smooth bore nozzles are just above the water's surface. This design allows for easier access to the components during regular servicing. Electrical solenoid valves were used to allow for greater pressure control from the manifold to the cannon assemblies and individual actuation of each air/cannon assembly.

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Arcing around the west bank of the pond are 16 masonry pedestals, each installed with stainless steel pipe scuppers mounted sconce-like into the masonry with custom brackets. Each column has a pumping system. Water is pumped through the air manifold in the pool through the vertical piping system, which feeds water up and over the scuppers at the controller's bidding. Each mounting bracket also supports the waterproof RGB LEDs that illuminate the water.
Photo: Ricky Barnard


Isolating splitters run along the submerged piping network to carry DMX signals from the underground vaults beneath the promenade to the waterproof RGB LEDs mounted on the air cannon stands in the pool, and to the linear RGB LEDs mounted beneath the scuppers along the outside columns surrounding the promenade. The stainless steel scuppers are mounted with custom brackets that allowed them to be built into the masonry columns running along the water's edge. Each mounting bracket also supports the waterproof linear RGB LEDs. Water is pumped through an air manifold in the pool through vertical piping in each column to feed water up and out the scuppers at the controller's bidding.

The four water features run on a network that feeds signals to each one from the vaults beneath the promenade. Controllers in each vault are on a network ring, allowing any of the vaults to be controlled by the others. This system also allows for remote show changes and diagnostics on site and off. Despite the many project challenges, team members adhered to a strict budget without cost overruns. Norman's interrupted park is now a boost to this proud city.

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Landscape architect principle Scott Howard, ASLA, of Howard-Fairbairn Site Design, Inc., selected a variety of tree species to surround the pond and decorate the park: Autumn Blaze maple; 'Sugar Tyme' crabapple; 'Dynamite' crapemrytle; Canaert juniper; Chinese Pistache; 'Bosque' elm; London Planetree; 'Brackens Best' Deodar cedar; 'Natchez' white crapemrytle; 'Nellie Stevens' holly; swamp white oak; 'Oklahoma' redbud; Shantung maple; and 'Hopi' crabapple.
Photo by Madison Howard


Project Team
University North Park Development, Norman, Oka.
Norman Parks Director: Jud Foster
Prime Consultant/Landscape Architect: Howard-Fairbairn Site Design, Inc. (HFSD), Oklahoma City
Principal: Scott Howard, ASLA
Award: 2010 ASLA Central States Honor Award
Architect: Mckinney Partnership Architects (Stage Structure & Restroom Facilities)
Fountain Design Engineer: Delta Fountains, Jacksonville, Fla.
General Contractor: CGC Construction, LLC., Edmond, Oka.
Civil Engineering: SMC Consulting
Electrical/Mechanical Engineering: Darr-Collins
Lighting (RGB LEDs): Unmei International, Inc.
Structural Engineering: Structural Engineering Group

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The four water elements--air cannons (bottom right photo), cascading water scuppers (photo top right), and air diffusers and submersible aerator snorkels (small nozzles that run to the farthermost corners of the lake to oxygenate and stir the water)--are connected beneath the water's surface by a custom Delta air manifold. This allows the scroll- air compressor and spin-clean strainers to pull water from the air compressor to reverse the water flow to clean the system of debris, and allows enough air pressure to travel the length of the one-acre pool. A network feeds signals to each water feature from vaults beneath the promenade.


As seen in LASN magazine, July 2016.






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