A streetscape beautification project morphed into the reinvention of several beloved public spaces in Arnolds Park, where community members can now experience the waterfront’s boardwalks and lakeside parks – places that are well-designed, engaging, and colorful.

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The Iowa Great Lakes region in northwestern Iowa has been long beloved by Midwesterners as a vacation destination for over one hundred years. State Highway 71 is a major corridor, linking five municipalities in the Iowa Great Lakes region of Northwestern Iowa. But for such a well-traveled road, it was unfortunate that the many drivers it served had nothing to look out onto except worn pavement and sparse plantings.

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In 2017, Hoerr Schaudt was engaged to develop a vision plan to beautify the highway. A design strategy would improve the visual quality, natural environment, and vehicular and pedestrian safety along the 9-mile corridor. transforming the public spaces that people actually choose to frequent, rather than merely pass through.

A comprehensive endeavor, turning spaces into places that prompt delight not just through the memories and associations they inspire but through the physical quality – the color and smell of the blooms, the interaction of the boardwalk with the waterfront, the pride and identity that the signage evokes.

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The public waterfront in the community of Arnolds Park is at the heart of the project. Here, Hoerr Schaudt reinvigorated a sidewalk connecting the Central Business District of the town with the waterfront by creating a wide pedestrian walk through the park. Arnolds Park Promenade as it became known, meanders through the park bounded by verdant gardens that immerse people in an array of flowering trees, shrubs and perennials. with a promenade, garden, and park all redesigned using horticulture as the primary driver for placemaking, and the town’s location on Lake Okoboji as the cornerstone for its identity. The overall goal was not to transform the character of the place, but to heighten the qualities that are already inherent to the region, and to restore the natural spirit while providing guidance to key destinations in the area.

ASLA Central States Merit Award, 2022

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