Turtle Creek Pump House


Designer: D.I.R.T. Studios with MESA Design Group

Turtle Creek Pump House is a deconstructed garden; a re-creation of an old industrial pump station into a residential garden. Originally a pump station supplying water to the Township of Highland Park from 1924 to 1950, the property was converted to a maintenance facility and then sat vacant until 2002 when it was purchased by the adjacent homeowner who wished to preserve the site and structures to sustainably transform their use from industrial to artistic. Its recent incarnation is a postmodernist celebration, a preservation of local history, and a lively combination of art and gardens. The Turtle Creek Pump House is a showcase of sustainability with a sod roof, all native plantings, reuse of existing concrete paving for walks, and prevents runoff allowing surface water to be absorbed through the water-permeable paver and grass system. Appropriately and symbolically, the site’s lifeblood is water, used like an artist’s medium throughout with misters, spillways and fountains, with its fluidity juxtaposed beside the solidity of concrete structures. Even original mechanical elements found new life, such as benches made of electrical panels. Beyond simple salvage, the Pump House site is a renaissance and an example of ultimate recycling. Turtle Creek Pump House is a place restored, not destroyed, a recycling of an entire site and not just the building materials of the site. In a city where new is typically better, the Pump House proves the bones of history can give form to a space, giving shape and substance to a marvelous new creation.