The Passerine Pavilion is a universally accessible pavilion perched atop Wells Overlook Park and designed to complement the existing scenic overlook tower. Commanding views of the Wakarusa River Valley are below; however, the timber tower was not accessible to members of the community with limited mobility. In response, the Passerine Pavilion brings the experience of the landscape to all who appreciate it. Like a grassland bird it projects horizontally with upturned wings and spine sloped backward toward its tail. The result is an expansive view from a level platform, affording all visitors, regardless of their mobility, an experience of beholding the Wakarusa River Valley.
The primary issue is to provide access to all members of the community, and in particular, people with limited mobility, to the expansive views of the Wakarusa River Valley and its various landmarks, as well as to provide access to a restored prairie that recalls the native flora of the region.
Members of the community including people advocating for universal accessibility, were invited to multiple project presentations and site visits to discuss the project with the students who were tasked with the design and construction of the project through Dirt Works Studio. The studio collaborated with stakeholders on the wayside informational panel design and maintained open dialogue with project stakeholders throughout the project design and construction phases. This included minor design modifications during construction to address community concerns, a process that continues as the studio works with these stakeholders in additional phases of the park’s revitalization.
The Passerine Pavilion provides access to members of the community that are often marginalized, especially in the context of public parks and scenic overlooks. In addition, the project, through its prairie restoration, advocates for local flora and fauna and educates the community on their value through wayside education panels that interpret the landscape, both current and historical. The Passerine Pavilion is a physical contribution to the park infrastructure that serves the entire county. Building on the success of this work the studio developed a master plan of the park to assist the County in park revitalization that includes a second collaboration, a planned universally accessible picnic structure.