Shop Creek Restoration

Metro Denver, CO

National award-winning creek restoration project

Urbanization within the Shop Creek drainage basin caused severe channel erosion, creating downstream sedimentation and phosphorous pollution problems in the Cherry Creek Reservoir, a major recreation area in Aurora, Colorado.  Shop Creek became a lifeless canyon that cut through the dry plain and provided no ecological, recreational, or visual benefits.

The solution developed by the Wenk Associates and the engineering team was a radical departure from standard approaches to stream channel design. The project employs an unusually redundant system that treats the runoff in both a pond and a wetland system, cutting the phosphorous runoff from the creek in half, and transforming a heavily eroded creek bed into a vital and inviting demonstration of self-sustaining and diverse upland and wetland ecology.

The project has received national and state engineering and landscape architectural design awards for its innovative response to a broad range of engineering and ecological issues. The project has been published widely, as a cover article for Landscape Architecture Magazine in 1991, and in numerous books and articles on landscape design, ecologically-based planning and design, and sustainable materials.

“Shop Creek was one of our earliest (perhaps our first) water quality improvement project and has been very successful over the past two decades.”
Ken MacKenzie, Project Manager
Urban Drainage and Flood Control District (2015)


City of Aurora
Cherry Creek State Park
Cherry Creek Basin Water Quality Authority




Muller Engineering, Inc.
Black & Veatch


Consulting Engineer Council of Colorado, Engineering Excellence Award, 1990

American Consulting Engineers Council, Honor Award for Design, 1990

Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, Grand Award, 1991

American Society of Landscape Architects Colorado Chapter, President’s Award for Design Excellence, 1991

American Society of Landscape Architects Colorado Chapter, Merit Award for Design, 1991

American Society of Landscape Architects, Merit Award for Design, 1995

American Society of Landscape Architects Colorado Chapter, Landmark Design - Honor Award and Land Stewardship Designation, 2015


Strutin, Michelle. “Two Parks That Quiet The Storm.”  Landscape Architecture Magazine, Oct. 1991: pp84-87

Crandell, Gina, and Heidi Landecker. Designed Landscape Forum. Washington, DC: Spacemaker, 1998: pp177

Campbell, Craig S., and Michael Ogden. Constructed Wetlands in the Sustainable Landscape. New York: Wiley, 1999: pp131

Woodward, Joan. "Chapter 3: Pattern Sources." Waterstained Landscapes: Seeing and Shaping Regionally Distinctive Places. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 2000: pp168-172

Margolis, Liat, and Alexander Robinson. Living Systems: Innovative Materials and Technologies for Landscape Architecture. A Basel: Birkhäuser, 2007: pp 68-69