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Riverfront Park 5 Year Anniversary

August 5, 2010

Last month marked the 5 year anniversary of Riverfront Park at the Navy Yard at Noisette.  I wanted to take a couple of minutes to reflect and appreciate one of North Charleston’s best kept secrets.

As part of it responsibilities under an agreement with the City of North Charleston, The Noisette Company designed, built and foward-funded (forward-funded Phase 1) a 15-acre Riverfront Park on the banks of the Cooper River.  North Charleston Riverfront Park opened in July 2005 and marked the first time in nearly one hundred years the North Charleston residents had public access to the Cooper River shoreline.  Since its opening, the park has become home to the Lowcountry’s largest Fourth of July celebration.  The park, located adjacent to the Charleston Navy Yard Officers’ Housing Historic District and the mouth of the Noisette Creek, offers ten acres of walking trails and river views, as well as fishing piers, a performance amphitheatre, interactive fountain and an 800-ft long boardwalk.  In the summer of 2007, a playground and picnic area, as well as a dog park were added to the park.

Riverfront Park Highlights:

  • First Significant public access to the water in over 100 years
  • Annual Outdoor Sculpture Competition and Exhibition – A component of the North Charleston Arts Festival, the Competition and Exhibition features large-scale contemporary sculptures on display throughout the year.
  • Tens of thousands of visitors each year
  • Recycling of demolished pavement and buildings – 79% of total waste by weight
  • All plantings are native, except for turfgrass (see below)
  • Seashore paspalum turfgrass used – salt water tolerant and irrigated using brackish water from the Cooper River
  • Failing concrete seawall replaced with naturalized shoreline to encourage wildlife habitat
  • Local materials used for tabby concrete
  • Reduced light pollution with full cutoff fixtures
  • Some lights powered by solar collectors
  • Benches and waste receptacles – Landscape Forms, Inc. Austin aluminum benches have a recycled content of 48% or greater of which 26% or greater is post consumer and 22% or greater is post industrial.  All styles are 100% recyclable.
  • Pervious surfaces include gravel paths, and Flexi-Pave porous pavement.

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Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial

We can’t speak about the park without discussing and honoring the Naval Base Memorial.  The memorial was completed and dedicated on November 5, 2007. Erected in honor of the countless military personnel and civilians that served the United States and the Greater Charleston region while the Charleston Navy Base was operational. The memorial is located on the banks of the Cooper River, on the southern end of Riverfront Park among mature oak trees.  The Noisette company was involved in conceptual planning and design for the memorial.  Oversight and funding for the project came from The Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial Board of Directors and the City of North Charleston.

Memorial Highlights:

  • Only location outside of the Navy Memorial in Washington, DC that is home to both the Lone Sailor and the Homecoming statues.
  • Area for former Naval Base employees to reminisce
  • Museum-quality educational displays explain the importance of the Charleston Naval Base and it role in WWI and WWII through the Cold War.

Additional Details of the Park

Shoreline improvements – Riverfront Park has a healthier, more beautiful shoreline as well as a boardwalk and pier that increases recreational opportunities for all its users.
Shoreline Improvement process included:
1) removing the existing decaying and damaging seawall
2) placing “pyramat”- a polypropylene mat used to lessen shoreline erosion and plugging over 37,000 salt-tolerant groundcover plants into the ground, through the mat, creating a vegetated shoreline
3) driving the boardwalk piles into place, along the shore
4) constructing a breakwater from 45 to 80 feet off shore, that will run along the shore for the length of the park, and while allowing tidal flow, will reduce the current impact of shipping wake on the riverbanks. First, corestone was placed in individual piles in the river, about 20 feet from shore. Next, crews brought in 600-lb boulders, called “armor stone” to place on top of the corestones. These serve to break the wake before it reaches the fragile shorelines.

The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) presented a 2006 Award of Merit for lighting design at the City of North Charleston’s Riverfront Park. Wanda J. Barchard of Burt Hill, Inc. was the designer. The International Illumination Design Awards program of the IESNA provides a unique opportunity for public recognition of professionalism, ingenuity, and originality in lighting design based upon the individual merit of each entry judged against specific criteria. Judges are selected from a broad professional spectrum that represents knowledge of lighting and design excellence. The judging system is based entirely on how well the lighting design does or does not meet the program criteria. This program is not a competition. The program is open to any qualified entrant without limitations as to professional affiliations. The Guth, Waterbury, Cutler and the Energy and Environmental Design Award Sponsored by OSRAM SYLVANIA are parallel programs created to recognize outstanding lighting design.

Riverfront Park Pictures from the City of North Charleston

Riverfront Park is located on the former Charleston Naval Base at the Navy Yard at Noisette, easily accessible from I-526 and I-26. Enter the former Charleston Naval Base by the McMillan Avenue gate or the Virginia Avenue gate and turn onto Hobson Avenue. Riverfront Park signs are visible for easy to follow directions.


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