Oklahoma State University and city of Stillwater team up for creek revitalization
A prominent campus gateway on the northeast corner of Oklahoma State University (OSU) recently underwent revitalization highlighted by the installation of a new monumental retaining wall in W. Boomer Creek. Designed for beauty and to stabilize the creek banks, the Rosetta Outcropping retaining wall looks like naturally weathered stone but is durable like dense concrete. Produced by Midwest Block & Brick and installed by On-Site Construction on behalf of general contractor, T. McDonald Construction, the 9,000-square-foot retaining wall was completed on schedule despite record rainfall and challenging project specifications.
To achieve success, the project required a true team effort between OSU, the city of Stillwater and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. The W. Boomer Creek improvement project replaced a deteriorated and failing drainage system with an attractive and functional flowing alternative. The design process was a collaboration between OSU’s Landscape Services, Facilities Management, led by Steve Dobbs, and the consultant team led by Alaback Design Associates. Other integral team members included CEC for civil engineering, Phillips Slaughter Rose for structural design and hydrologist Swift Water Resources Engineering.
W. Boomer Creek was widened, deepened, curved and graded before the multi-piece retaining wall was installed using three different application processes. By taking this unique approach, the Cedar Valley blend-colored retaining wall complements the surrounding landscape while serving as an engineered solution for storm water management and erosion control. In addition, the custom installation effectively navigates structural and environmental design considerations including a new pedestrian bridge and a system of mature oaks trees.
“Designated as a gateway on the OSU Landscape Master Plan, it was important to revitalize this highly visible drainageway, so it’s an inviting and safe entry to campus,” Mike Peters, PLA at Alaback Design Landscape Architects. “Pedestrian connectivity was improved by widening the sidewalk adjacent to a main street and installing a new pedestrian bridge over the reconfigured creek. In addition to providing flood control, the structural retaining wall improves the creek’s appearance and viability as a natural habitat that won’t erode over time. With an extremely tight job site and 20 inches of unexpected rainfall, installing the Rosetta Outcropping system rather than a traditional segmental retaining wall proved critical to meeting the structural and aesthetic requirements of the project.”
In order to accommodate the wider, deeper and traversing creek design without intruding on the roots of several large trees being preserved as part of the project, the Rosetta Outcropping retaining wall was installed in three ways: gravity wall, reinforced wall and form-and-pour system. Using a free digital layout application, the retaining wall was methodically calculated using a combination of 12 hardscape units pre-organized on three pallets. Ranging from two to six feet wide and six to 24 inches high, the units are labeled with letters so constructing the wall is efficient and accurate. Metal arms and lips on each unit are used to mechanically install the retaining wall using heavy equipment.
“Legos are a common comparison with our Rosetta Outcropping retaining wall. In both cases, you know exactly how the pieces go together according to a plan. Of course, our blocks are much larger and heavier, so avoiding mistakes is very important,” said Gerry Garcia contractor and project support representative at Rosetta Hardscapes LLC. “The versatility of this retaining wall really allowed us to accommodate a wide variety of specifications. In sections with standard wall heights, a traditional gravity wall was installed. In sections that exceeded maximum allowable heights, a reinforced wall was installed. In areas where excavation was limited to preserve tree roots, a form-and-pour system was used. This is the first job I’ve seen with three methods of wall installation, which is a testament to the creative ingenuity of the engineer for developing such an innovative design.”
In addition to overcoming limited work area, tree roots and varying wall heights, the Rosetta Outcropping digital layout application allowed on-site construction to install the retaining wall while the pedestrian bridge footers were being poured. The retaining wall was also built around a number of utility drainage pipes that discharge into the creek. These accommodations would be a challenge for even the most seasoned crew, but the pre-determined layout and labeled units make installing a Rosetta Outcropping retaining wall a straightforward endeavor. As a result, the new found beauty and brawn of W. Boomer Creek will be a welcome sight for all entering the northeast gateway of OSU for years to come.
“The production quality and precise organization of these multi-dimensional units contributed significantly to the efficiency of this job. The installers simply consulted the wall layout plans, selected the appropriate unit from pallet A, B or C, and directed placement for each wall section,” said Gibson Rose, Regional Sale Representative at Midwest Block & Brick. “Our team in the Jefferson City, Missouri plant is proud of its contribution to such a dynamic and transformational project.”