Cities across America are making extra efforts to create pleasant, attractive, and useful public spaces to not only attract residents to live in downtown areas, but also to keep people there for a few extra hours when the workday is over.

Civic Space Park in Phoenix offers residents, workers, downtown visitors, and students from nearby Arizona State University a park with a unique design, features, and a landmark $2.4 million suspended sculpture, Her Secret is Patience, by artist Jan Echelman. The city-owned park stresses its ties with the community by only hosting events that are free to the public.

Planners designed the space with sustainability in mind. Solar panels produce enough energy to offset the park’s lighting and electrical needs. More than 70% of the 2.77-acre park’s surface area will be shaded when trees and vegetation reach maturity. And pervious pavement will allow rainwater to seep to the water table, reducing damaging stormwater runoff.

To add to the Civic Space’s attractiveness, designers specified colored pervious concrete. Progressive Hardscapes of Phoenix was charged with installing the colored DrainScape, the contractor’s licensed pervious concrete solution. The material allows for a 15% to 30% void structure, which permits three to eight gallons of water per square foot, per minute to pass through it. Using Bomanite’s Con-Color concrete staining process, Progressive was able to provide the desired color and complete its work successfully and on time.

The biggest challenge on the job was scheduling, says Mike Riggs, manager at Progressive Hardscapes. “The sequencing with sculptures and working with other contractors made it a very congested site,” he says.

More recently, the contractor has worked on integral color pervious projects. When using a stain, if the surface is chipped or raveled, a gray spot will appear. It may be necessary to return for touchups, but that has not been the case for this project. “Civic Space still looks great,” he says.

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Jim Miller stains pervious concrete at the Pervious Concrete Live! event during World of Concrete earlier this year.
Lindsay Woodward Jim Miller stains pervious concrete at the Pervious Concrete Live! event during World of Concrete earlier this year.

Advice for Staining Pervious Concrete

Jim Miller is an advocate for topical color for pervious concrete, instead of integral. Integral puts pressure on the producer to manufacture the concrete with precise water/cement ratios. Adding water will result in a different shade than desired.

While integral color is ideal for coloring an entire slab, it is not suitable for using several different colors for the same project, says Miller, founder of C2 Products, Arcadia, Ind. Integral "doesn’t lend itself to decorative concrete,” he adds.

Miller downplays the chipping or damage issue. After a job, he empties the remainder of his Jelly Bean soybean-based pigment from the sprayer into a jug and gives it to the homeowner or businessowner. "If there is a chip or raveling, they can put it into a sprayer and re-spray the area affected,” he says.

He advises that when selecting the desired color from a color chart, select the color two shades darker than the desired end result. "Those charts show the end result after an acrylic is on top of it,” Miller explains. "We don’t put acrylics on top of pervious.” Also, pervious concrete absorbs light and does not reflect it. Finally, spray the surface in the same manner as painting a wall. Attack it from two different directions at 90 degrees. This assures both sides of the porous surface receive the color.

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