Heartwood Preserve honored in Civil+Structural Engineer’s Yearbook of Engineering Achievement Awards.

February 4, 2022

The inaugural award was given to projects that demonstrably impacted sustainability and community improvement through groundbreaking innovation.

Project Location:  Omaha, NE

Category:  Water + Stormwater + Wastewater

Started:  July 1, 2019


Project Leadership Team:

  • Grace Amundson
  • Nicole Kelly
  • Erik Jensen
  • David Meyer
  • Civil Engineer: Lamp Rynearson
  • Client: Applied Underwriters


Project Overview:

The Heartwood Greenway System, located in Omaha, Nebraska reimagines climate change infrastructure design and furthers the idea of what a public park can and should be. From inception, MSLA was determined to go beyond managing stormwater and saw this as an opportunity to forge a more meaningful connection between people and their ecological surroundings in response to disastrous floods which have taken more than a billion-dollar toll on the region. Prioritizing both aesthetics and function, MSLA conceived a sinuous progression of 13 sculptural basins showcasing the wonder of nature front and center offering a range of experiences throughout the seasons. These limestone clad basins will have the capacity to capture and store an estimated 55 million gallons or 170-acre feet of stormwater runoff. With recent flooding in mind, the basins are designed to accommodate 100-year storms with the peak discharge leaving the basins to embody the site’s pre-development agricultural field conditions. In addition to managing high flood volumes, the basins help treat the water at the first half inch of runoff by allowing sediment to settle before it enters the public sewer system.

Other work in this project includes storm lines being routed to enter all 13 basins on axis and weathered steel embedded in the stepped limestone walls to elegantly frame infrastructure.



This holistic approach to climate infrastructural design is complemented by the fact that people can easily access it and participate with it. Over fourteen miles of universally accessible trails extend throughout the project’s 500 acres and connect with Omaha’s

“Paths of Discovery” network. These thoroughfares bring greater continuity to Omaha’s multi-modal trail network and give all residents the life-affirming opportunity to experience wild lands and their inhabitants. From council rings, sledding hills, playgrounds, a waterpark, picnic and bonfire clearings, Heartwood is studded with amenities. This project represents a transformative new approach to the development of infrastructure in which utility and beauty can work in tandem.



  • 13 limestone basins with a capacity of 55 million gallons or 170-acre feet
  • Stonework is dry-stacked and pinned with dowels where required to anchor steeply stacked units
  • Translates process of capturing stormwater into an eco-logical sculpture park via a network of iconic detention basins


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