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SALT LAKE CITY - In the center of downtown, 2,500 gallons gushes over the cascades of City Creek Center. The creek took six years of planning and design, 275 massive boulders and more than 600 live trees to recreate the center's namesake within its boundaries.
The boulders, quarried in Brown's Canyon in Summit County, were hand carved to appear worn down by the water over decades.
"(They're) meant to look as if it's been here for millions of years," said KEPCO Project Developer Catherine Shuman. "The stones are hand-contoured to look as if the water had been here the whole time."
The City Creek Center opens March 22, but KSL got an exclusive tour of the feature for which the center is named. City Creek Cascades is part of a replica of City Creek, and flows above a five-story parking structure. Contractors cut the boulders and built the waterfalls in Heber before tearing them down and re-assembling them in the center.
"The waterfalls are evocative of the waterfalls I know and love in Utah," said City Creek Center employee Dee Brewer.
Ross Nadeau and his San Francisco-based landscape architects, as well as the Salt Lake-based stone contractor KEPCO designed the landscaping for the center. To recreate the creek accurately, Nadeau and his co- workers hiked the creek for six months.
"In the snow and the rain, we hiked City Creek and understood what they wanted to recreate in the project," Nadeau said.
The creek flows across two city blocks, and drops 40 feet in elevation from beginning to end.
"We're taking that creek and bringing it here to the heart of the city," Nadeau said.
The real City Creek flows underground in the city and is managed to prevent floodwaters from reaching the shopping center. Aboveground, there's plenty of fresh flowing water and cutthroat trout inhabit the meandering creek.
"What a gift to the city, and to those of us that can come in and enjoy this," Shuman said.
It's an urban oasis where people can gather and relax.
"It is decidedly urban, among all of the sky scrapers, and I think that City Creek gives it that nice flourish of nature that softens that urban edge," Brewer said.