The Water Works Parkitecture competition, held by Des Moines Water Works and the Iowa State University Department of Landscape Architecture, sought proposals to integrate the ecological and social functions of the park and river into a unified landscape, inspire the community, and generate discussion about watershed issues. The competition also called for solutions for ecological and recreational challenges specific to Water Works Park.
Sasaki's winning plan—developed in collaboration with RDG and AES—shapes two distinct yet complementary sections of Water Works Park: the wild and the engineered. The wild offers immersion into the park through activities like horseback riding and hiking. The engineered is the active heart of the park and provides more structured activities and events. The centerpiece of the engineered landscape is a recreational watercourse, experienced on standing paddleboards, that is linked to interpretive opportunities regarding the role of the site in harvesting and cleaning drinking water.