West Bottoms – In a lush newly created greenspace, runoff from rooftops and buildings flows to a bioswale and bioretention area surrounded by park-like landscape features that include a trail and native trees, shrubs, and grasses. StormPave™ water permeable pavers make the hardscaping a lot greener, too.
Kansas City, Missouri’s Water Services Department created a sustainable green infrastructure demonstration project in the city’s Central Industrial District (CID), also known as the Historic West Bottoms.
Down in the floodplains of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, not far from their confluence, the idea was to minimize urban stormwater runoff from expansive paved areas.
Heading up the project was engineering firm HNTB Corporation which specified the Pine Hall Brick StormPave™ water permeable clay pavers to help make it all work. The 3.4 acres of pavers play a major role in the vehicular area of the project, allowing stormwater to flow through the paver joints to be filtered by an aggregate bed beneath before returning to the rivers and groundwater.
“One of our strategies for this green stormwater infrastructure pilot project in the West Bottoms was to leverage multipurpose areas including permeable pavers creating accessible greenspace functioning as parking.” said Tom Poer, HNTB vice president and water resources project director. “We found that the Pine Hall Brick StormPave™ functioned well as permeable pavers, has a long-term durability, and has an aesthetic look that fit perfect for this project.”
The paver installation was one of the largest hand laid projects that Derek Schneider, principal of Aqua-Paving Construction had ever done.
It was a long process, from planning to design to construction. The planning phase started in 2015 and the construction phase ended in 2020.
Within the planning effort, we went through many layouts, eventually settling on a green plaza concept. The city wanted to see more of a formal area underneath the I-670 deck bridges. So, we decided to go with a permeable paver.
We considered different types of pavers and permeable pavements. Because the site was in a historic industrial area, it was important to match the look and feel of the surrounding buildings and infrastructure, which primarily consisted of brick warehouses and buildings.
During the initial phases of the project, the team also discovered the original sett stone and brick pavement underneath the existing asphalt. The team wanted something similar, so that’s where the color scheme came into play by the team’s landscape architect, Meg Babani from Taliaferro & Browne (now retired).
Meg also came up with the idea of using different paver colors to denote parking spaces, travel lanes, and pedestrian areas.
West Bottoms represents a expansive green initiative to protect the nearby rivers and overall water supply, but the space also serves as a gathering place that captures the spirit of the city. (Photo: Marcus Clem)
With its proximity to the rivers, West Bottoms is protected by FEMA accredited levees providing near 500-year flood protection.
“Along with the permeable brick pavers, other stormwater features were also installed as part of a larger green infrastructure project. The idea with green stormwater infrastructure is that we’re trying to capture and store as much water as we can, where it falls, as opposed to it getting into the combined sewer system (both storm and wastewater), because when it rains the system gets overwhelmed, and then you get raw sewage discharging into streams,” said Jeff Doudrick, lead engineer on the West Bottoms project. “The EPA doesn’t like that, so the City has a consent decree to reduce the number of overflows that occur, and this is one project that’s helping to reduce those overflows into the Missouri River.”
The total project features multiple green infrastructure elements in addition to the bioretention basins – gravel infiltration basins, stormwater tree planters, a drywell infiltration system and the permeable pavement system shown here. The purpose of these nature-based solutions is to collect, treat and infiltrate stormwater runoff and achieve a higher level of combined sewer overflow control downstream.
Overall, the project provided the CID with a successful green infrastructure solution that met the project goals to reduce overflows of the downstream combined sewer system, while also providing aesthetic, social and economic enhancements to the community.
Brick clay pavers are one of the best, longest lasting surfaces. Concrete doesn’t hold its color as long. These pavers are going to be there for 50 years or more, and they’ll probably still look about the same as they do right now.
SLIDE SHOW (click to advance) – An enormous hand laid project comes together. (First three photos HNTB, fourth photo: City of Kansas City, fifth photo: Derek Schneider.)
Click for englarged PDF.
Schneider explained that while the West Bottoms project revolves around greenspace, you still need a hardscape for streets, parking, and special events space to enhance access to that greenspace. StormPave pavers allowed the project to maintain the environmental mission of the project.
Thus, an Interstate underpass area that was formerly gravel and mud has been transformed to include generous pedestrian areas and a flexible, multi-use, covered outdoor space that can be used for festivals and events.
Different-colored permeable pavers demarcate parking stalls and drive lanes, arranged in geometrically interesting patterns, as well as decorative lighting, “meet-and-greet” seating with planter boxes and eight new acres of public green space (formerly a gravel parking lot) transformed the area into an aesthetically pleasing space.
Above photo by HNTB. Below, the SEVEN paver patterns used in this expansive job.
“The city took what was impervious roads and parking areas and made them permeable, allowing all the stormwater to go through to be not only collected, but cleaned,” said Schneider. “With the permeable paver system, the structure with its open-graded aggregates has a lot of void space retention that creates surface area for microbes that help remove contaminants.”
“Over time about 40 percent of first flush pollutants are collected in the system and never pushed on, whereas, if you have a standard impervious roadway, all that’s going into storm sewers and your local body of water, including motor oil, heavy metals, and chemical contaminants,” said Schneider.
Historic West Bottoms will continue to make history as it provides an urban environment that conserves natural areas and improves water quality vital to the region.
Landscape architects for the project were Taliaferro & Browne, working with HNTB Corporation on the hardscape design.
Acme Brick supplied StormPave Heavy Duty in dark gray, light gray and red to create the desired aesthetic and practical patterns.
It’s all getting a lot of attention. So far, West Bottoms has earned the following awards:
- 2021 ACEC National, Engineering Excellence Honor Award
- 2021 ACEC MO, Engineering Excellence Grand Award
- 2021 APWA National Public Works Project of the Year
- 2021 APWA KC Chapter Public Works Project of the Year
- 2021 ENR Midwest Award of Merit
- 2021 KCIC Brick-by-Brick Award
- 2020 KCIC Sustainability Award
SLIDE SHOW (click to advance) – A few years’ use demonstrates how well clay pavers hold their color, as well as how durable the system is for all traffice, from trucks to bikes. (Photos: Marcus Clem)