DG2 Design worked with the City of Wildwood, St. Louis County and the Gateway Off-Road Cyclists (GORC) to develop a Master Plan for Belleview Farm Park, a historic former farmstead dating back to the 19th century that had been bequest to the County in 1996. Sited on approximately 100 sloping acres, the property features quintessential farm pastureland surrounded by a beautiful mature hardwood forest. The site’s dramatic topography also offers grand views of the scenic Meramec River valley. The clients wished to preserve as much of the historic infrastructure and natural beauty as possible while providing a destination for passive recreation as well as great mountain biking.
One of the most important parts of the design process for this project was the analysis and documentation of both the historic structures and the unique natural features that could be found throughout the site. The design team worked to incorporate these features into the overall Master Plan, basing programming and site design decisions on how they might best be used or highlighted. The team then went further in their site investigations, analyzing the topography, viewsheds and drainage patterns to help determine how to work with the natural functions and ensure that the proposed design sat lightly on the land.
The proposed Master Plan aims at providing a low-key, relaxing park experience that shows reverence for the land and its heritage. A few key design features include interpretive courtyard spaces around historic buildings, pavilions and look-out points, fire-pits, a bird blind, lawn space for games and relaxation, bocce courts, seat walls and shade structures, an outdoor concert space, and a natural playscape. The most eye-catching feature, a custom three-story star gazing and look-out tower anchors the designed space in the location of the historic farmstead home which had been tragically burned in 2014. Within all of this, the design team worked to include elegant solutions for parking, ADA and maintenance access that disappear into the landscape as much as possible without sacrificing functionality.
Finally, in concert with GORC, the design team developed plans for a mountain bike trail system that traverses the steep terrain and hardwood forest with care, while also providing a challenging and fun user experience. These trails will keep the park active throughout the year and will complement the biking opportunities found at the adjacent Sherman Beach Park trails.