Sustainable Materials Integral to Atlanta's Westside Park and Reservoir Megaproject

Aug. 18, 2020

With the city reconfiguring, the long-neglected Westside is undergoing a massive overhaul as its 400-ft. deep Bellwood Quarry is repurposed into Atlanta’s largest water reserve container.

Atlanta, Ga.
PRAD Group

The reservoir’s surrounding grounds are being developed into Westside Park, a 280-acre multi-use recreational space. This ambitious multi-phased effort addresses several issues associated with the city’s exploding population—water shortages and surpluses, an aging infrastructure and initiatives to balance development with environmentally responsible practices.

This 2.5-billion-gallon capacity gorge will soon hold a large portion of Atlanta’s potable water surplus, increasing reserves from three to five days to 30 to 90 days with city water supplies processed at the nearby Hemphill and Chattahoochee Water Treatment Plants.


The architect’s vision resulted in a magnificent blend of form and function. The grand structure features a native precast concrete outer shell, with a focal-point entranceway bookended by two soaring pilasters, which form a gateway for a striking arched-glass doorway. The complex will serve as the anchor for the evolving park aesthetic, and will soon be complemented by the adjacent Bellwood Reservoir, the next addition to this sweeping transformation.


To combine sustainability and visual appeal, architects chose two products from Oldcastle APG’s Echelon Masonry brand—the InsulTech Insulated Concrete Masonry System (ICMS) complemented by Trenwyth Trendstone and Mesastone masonry units. Oldcastle APG’s Belgard Aqualine permeable interlocking concrete pavers (PICP) were used as part of the Hemphill site's stormwater management system.

The Atlanta-based PRAD group, a firm experienced in environmental watershed projects, has been a key player in several phases of this long-range venture. Senior architect Tom Steele, the lead designer of the quarry and treatment plant pump station structures, explained how InsulTech’s preassembled single-wythe structural masonry units fit the distinct specifications for the project.

By combining structural CMUs, EPS foam insulation, air/water barrier and exterior veneer into a single 12.25-in. unit, the InsulTech system has been shown to dramatically reduce labor time and costs as compared to traditional insulated cavity walls. Just as importantly, the system delivers true continuous insulation rated at R-16.2—far exceeding requirements of IECC 2015—without sacrificing the masonry aesthetic.

Steele discovered just how adaptable the InsulTech system was during installation at the Bellwood Quarry Pump Station, which involved executing a multipurpose design to house the pumps as well as electrical systems, conference and office spaces, a workshop and restrooms.

Although smaller in scale, The Hemphill Water Treatment Plant Pump Station required some complex coordination by masons. Since these buildings will blend into the Westside landscape, Trendstone and Mesastone architectural units—prefinished, integrally colored concrete blocks—were chosen as the finished outer faces for the InsulTech system. The units are manufactured with one or more faces ground to expose the variegated colors of the natural aggregates.

With the Westside area predicted to undergo widespread development, architectural trends are somewhat difficult to predict. Therefore, the decision was made to design something as simple as possible for cost but with a little extra pizzazz for up-close viewing. Echelon’s comprehensive masonry offerings enabled Steele to strike the perfect balance.


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