Ingenuity Magazine Winter 2020

6 Pond | A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals. This is one definition of the word community. Ideally, communities grow from the ground up, guided by visionary leaders and residents uniting with skilled designers, architects and engineers who inculcate common goals into the built environment. With its unique blend of work and play facilities, cultural venues and inviting outdoor spaces, all within a short drive of the big city of Atlanta, you might say the small town of Sugar Hill is out to preserve the Sweet Life… and with its own distinctive twist. From the beginning, leaders encouraged citizen involvement. Eleven years ago, a survey revealed that residents wanted more places to eat, to be entertained and to experience a cohesive sense of community. When Pond came on the scene in 2008, Sugar Hill’s City Hall sat on a virtually barren stretch of road bereft of commercial businesses. The city had no central pulse. The City Manager, Bob Hail, had a vision for creating a unique identity for the city but needed assistance in implementing. Pond’s Greg Culpepper understood how Pond could assist in bringing the vision to life based on Pond’s long-standing relationship with the community. Pond’s engineering and planning expertise could be used to lay the ground work for necessary infrastructure to bring the plan to life. After initiating the purchase of land, the City contracted with Pond to design and develop a two-acre wet pond for 20 acres in the city center. The project, that also included stormwater management and channel protection planning, has spurred much of the development that the City has enjoyed over the last several years. The regional pond is an amenity for residents and includes paved pedestrian trails, landscaped terraces, an amphitheater with stage and terrace seating for 300 people. “The main impetus for the project was l a y i n g g r o u n dwo r k f o r f u t u r e developments. The regional detention makes it so developers don’t have to build their own little individual ponds. It’s not like other similar ponds that are dry and fenced in to catch stormwater, which become ugly and expensive to maintain. We could have done that but instead it’s an amenity pond, wet most of the time, and we designed a trail around it to turn it into an attractive feature that serves a purpose,” said Kevin Skinner, PE, Pond Principal and Design Director. The pond is fully integrated within the city center, and its amphitheater, known as “The Bowl at Sugar Hill.” Overlooking the Bowl is the E Center, a mixed-use development that features a 406-seat performing arts theater, gymnasium along with 43,000 square feet of restaurant, retail, office and meeting space. As Skinner said, “The space is very well used, and it’s not an understatement to say it has become a central hangout of the entire city.” Sugar Hill is proof that rolling out the welcome mat for independent businesses and people who appreciate thoughtful, livable development means the people will come. Since 2010, Sugar Hill’s population has grown by 30 percent to more than 24,000 residents, with permits issued for 31 commercial buildings and 1,238 single and multi-family homes in the last five years. Pond was also tasked with designing a traffic-calming roundabout adjacent to the new city hall and town green center. The pro j ec t i nc l uded ex t ens i ve landscaping, on-street parking, utilities upgrades and streetscape improvement such as decorative brickwork, street trees, benches and lighting. Sugar Hill is proof that rolling out the welcome mat for independent businesses and people who appreciate thoughtful, livable development means the people will come.