United States Air Force Academy
Originally designed by modernist landscape architect, Dan Kiley, the Air Garden has been restored to its original design intent with updated materials and construction techniques that are more sustainable and resistant to the harsh climate of Colorado.
Restoring the centerpiece of the U.S. Air Force Academy
The Big Picture
The United States Air Force Academy Air Garden restoration project brought back to life the original design by excavating fountains that were buried nearly 50 years ago. The garden features reflective pools, sunken planters and walkways amidst trees and plants. Each pool is individually plumbed, eliminating the previous issue of draining the entire system when something needed to be worked on. New technologies were incorporated, including a modern electrical system for the lighting.
Unlike the original layout, the restored Air Garden includes granite seating for two outdoor classrooms. The Air Garden has also been enhanced by the addition of a 9/11 Memorial, paying tribute to the United States and the three places where planes crashed during the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11, 2001.
Ingenuity in Action
To address budget constraints, GE Johnson partnered with Colorado Hardscapes to develop construction methods and materials that were cost effective, durable, and kept the aesthetic of the original design.
One of the goals of the Air Force Academy was to make the existing concept more sustainable. The original design featured an underground water storage tank that assisted in recirculating water to the basins. GE Johnson and Colorado Hardscapes redesigned the fountain system to allow for cost effective maintenance and operation. The underground storage tank was reduced in size and allowed for a larger mechanical space. Each basin was modified so they can be filled and drained independently to reduce water consumption and operational down time.