George Hazelrigg, ASLA, offers this detailed look at the park's design and development in a historically underutilized and forgettable plot of downtown real estate.
"The city's regional geography, notably its two great rivers-the Mississippi and the Missouri-and their tributaries and limestone outcrops, informed the design from the beginning, as did the downtown's urban grid and mapped reminders of earlier property lines, building foundation walls, and alleyways. During an on-site interview last July, Byrd said that one lesson learned from the experience was not to try to force your design, but rather to look as deep as you can into the locale and the region. 'If you bring these out,' he said, 'you can do some pretty remarkable things.'
Early on, the design team decided on a tripartite division of the garden into east–west bands. The northern 'river bluffs' band consists of a series of urban terraces beginning at the site's eastern end, where the park's café extends into a terrace with pool overlooking the lower garden. It ends at the site's highest point, a 'mound' reaching 10 feet above street level at the western end and covered with 70 river birch trees."