SINC Rivers Edge

Architectural rendering of outdoor park pathway, depicting entry point to the pier.

SINC Rivers Edge

Revitalizing the Riverbank at the Council Bluffs

Running along the Missouri River, the Council Bluffs riverbank has existed as a product of nature’s dynamic power since the last Ice Age. While the east bank of the bluffs holds potential as a scenic destination for visitors with its nature-filled and unrestrained lower shores, flooding has hindered accessibility. Collaborating with the Southwest Iowa Nonprofit for Collective Impact, HDR designed three structures on the east bank — the Mid-American Energy Adventure Tower, Treetop Walk and the Charles E. Lakin Pier — to allow visitors to engage with the land and foster a renewed connection to the river.

Map of the SINC Rivers Edge park, showing the position of each feature
Map of the SINC Rivers Edge park.

From Recreation to Relaxation

The three proposed structures not only redefine the previously unusable floodway of the Missouri River but also incentivize visitors to interact with the land in a completely new way. Blending nature and interactive elements, these structures transform the riverbank into a recreational hub, offering opportunities for play and respite. With unobstructed access to the river and forest walking trails, the project promotes community health and encourages a relationship between visitors and nature.

  • Simple, repeating forms at the Adventure Tower create suspended platforms that link core structures, allowing users to easily interact with and navigate the area.
  • The Treetop Walk features a network of elevated bridges that offers visitors access to various areas of the floodplains’ forest and use a previously flooded, unusable space.
  • The Charles E. Lakin Pier extends over the river and features an inclusive playscape with multisensory elements, canopies for protection against sun and rain and several observation decks offering views of downtown Omaha.
  • Recreational activities at the tower, such as a 100-foot climbing wall, simulated caving and adventure courses, contribute to the effort to bolster community health.
Architectural rendering of the components that make up the pier
Features of the Charles E. Lakin Pier.

Forging the Path to a Healthier Community

With opportunities for play and respite, the east bank at Council Bluffs offers both residents and visitors the chance to forge a connection with this section of land and its lower shores. Natural materials that match surrounding forests and easy access to walking trails facilitate a relationship between people and the land, laying the foundation for users to connect with the bluffs and develop a stronger sense of community.

Architectural rendering of outdoor park pathway, depicting entry point to the pier.
Southwest Iowa Nonprofit for Collective Impact (SINC)

Council Bluffs, IA
United States

23,100 sf (2,146 m²)


Honor Award (2022)
Design (Unbuilt) Category
American Society of Landscape Architects, Nebraska/Dakotas Chapter