A Closer Look: URI’s Rain Garden
Working as a subconsultant to the project architects, CRJA provided full site design services for a new LEED Gold Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences in URI’s North Campus sustainable development zone.
The landscape design needed to address the University’s ability to maintain a natural system and its appearance in periods of drought. The landscape design responds to these concerns by providing a structure of river stone stream beds, granite weir walls, stainless steel runnels and boulders harvested from on-site that create a sculptural feature in periods of drought and during the winter months. Areas planted with native grasses and perennials are supported by hearty deciduous and evergreen woodland shrubs and swaths of perennials and ornamental grasses. A band of flush stone pavement surrounds the feature to give maintenance crews a distinct mowing boundary in order to conserve the biodiversity of the new plantings. Detailing of the installations of all hardscape and planting was designed to ensure minimal maintenance over the lifetime of the feature. The result is a biologically diverse landscape, vibrant with native plant species, some of which were not previously found on campus and provide new habitat for insects and wildlife.
The goals of the landscape design have been met by removing redundant hardscape surfaces which contributed to the overall impervious surface area of the existing site. The introduction of a green roof and minimizing the extent of hardscape materials contributed to minimizing the volume of stormwater created. The feature works to capture, direct and treat the surface flow that is created by the CBLS building and associated site improvements and has been sized to accommodate existing re-directed drainage lines and the anticipated load of future development in this district.
Roof runoff is internally directed to two stainless steel runnels that daylight on the southwest face of CBLS and runs across a pedestrian path to an elegant rain garden that becomes the first collection area. The water then travels across a terraced weir wall and under a small pedestrian bridge before entering the first of three treatment ponds. These ponds create a larger collection area to store a large amount of water during periods of inundation. They have been designed to allow for sediment and suspended solids to collect behind strategically placed weir walls that also serve to aerate the water. Native and regionally adapted plantings have been selected for their adaptability to each flood zone and contribute to filtering the water within the main collection area, while remaining vibrant during varying periods of drought. The entire system has been created to slow the rate of runoff, infiltrate what volume was possible in an area with a high water table and improve the quality of water through biofiltration.
Click through the slideshow for a closer look.
A Summertime Campus Transformation
Recognizing the critical role that an attractive and welcoming campus plays in the decision-making of prospective students, Stetson University hired CRJA to guide a major campus improvement effort that was to be accomplished during the summer months and completed prior to the students’ return to campus for the fall semester. Working closely with the University’s Facilities Department, CRJA reviewed the campus in detail to orchestrate a facelift for the core campus area that would further minimize the impact of the automobile on the campus, improve the pedestrian experience for current and prospective students, eliminate troublesome maintenance areas, rejuvenate and enhance planting beds, create new gathering spaces related to academic, athletic, residential and student life buildings, and celebrate the quintessential campus space—the Palm Court.
In a few short months the core campus was transformed by the planting of nearly 300 native trees and nearly 50,000 sf of ground cover and shrub beds, the conversion of 14,000 sf of vehicular pavement to planting or lawn, the laying of 15,000 sf of new brick pavement, the installation of a new irrigation system that greatly reduced the campus’s water consumption, and the installation of a new palette of campus furniture of benches, trash receptacles, rockers, tables and chairs, and umbrellas to create a rich campus environment for the University community.
A Backstage Pass at the Ground Zero Fountain
Set within the footprints of the former Twin Towers at Ground Zero, the largest manmade waterfalls in the United States will be a site to be both seen and heard. These massive waterfalls and expansive reflecting pools will convey the power and significance of the events of 9/11, yet they will be set in a tranquil surround of stately oaks.
This was my first trip to the site since 2003 and a lot has changed within the physical environment; world perspective on the events of that day has changed as well. For some, the completed memorial will be a welcome milestone reflecting ten long years of healing.
Joe Petry of Delta Fountains, fountain designer and supplier for this project, recently invited Chris Golden, Terry Kinsler and me (all from CRJA) on a tour of the construction site so we could better understand the overall scale, complexity and functionality of the two fountains. We were able to circumnavigate the fountains from the upper level where the public will ultimately view the fountains. We then descended below plaza level to the first of two lower levels within the fountain basin and surrounding pump rooms. Once in the pump rooms, we were able to appreciate the sheer volume of water that is required to operate the fountains and all that goes into keeping them looking good and functioning well above ground.
The approximate overall length of each upper waterfall wall including surrounding weir is 200 feet. There is a +/-28-foot-drop between the public plaza level and the upper pool level and an additional +/- 24-foot-drop to the lower pool level. Each fountain is just shy of one acre in overall size. Surrounding each of the waterfall wall levels are the expansive pump rooms that house the impressive 24-inch (diameter) stainless steel return pipes, display and filter pumps, a multitude of various filters and purifiers, touch screen computers with video display, climactic and system controllers, and other necessary equipment. Each fountain is supported by several pump rooms and can purify and re-circulate several hundred thousand gallons of water a day.
To say that the tour by Joe was an eye-opening experience for each of us would be an understatement. When the memorial is finally open to the public, I am sure the overall perception will be that it is a simple and clean memorial, but little will viewers realize that beneath the surface lies a highly complex infrastructure which allows the system to function.
Although it was always a powerful site, since the 9/11 tragedy, the World Trade Center site possesses an even greater power to draw people from all over the world. Hopefully this memorial site and the reconstruction of the surrounding towers will be both an appropriate testament to the lives lost and a signal to move forward.
Here are a few photos showing impressions of our visit:
Ground Zero site, September 2010
Sense of scale
Not a minor league pump room
The future of Ground Zero emerges
More information on the 9/11 Memorial is available at the official website.
By Rick Williams (all text and photos)
How to create a walkable urban environment
Lafayette Square, adjacent Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, MA (A street calming and plaza design project; photo by CRJA)
From the Archives
While working on visual aids for a project interview recently, I came across a set of guidelines that CRJA developed while working with community groups planning urban public spaces. The document originated with the Pedestrian Issues Forum that was part of the immense Boston Central Artery/Tunnel Project in the 1990s. It was later refined for Walk Boston, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving walking conditions in cities and towns across Massachusetts, and further amended as part of our work for the design of Harvard University/Allston Development Group’s Streetscapes Plan in 2008. See below to read these guidelines.
Concord’s Main Street
We learned soon after the interview that the team we were on won the job! We will be working with Hoyle, Tanner & Associates on concept design for the revitalization of historic Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire. Main Street itself will be narrowed from four to three lanes, and our work will entail streetscape design to develop a “complete street” befitting the state capital for a 10-block stretch centered on the capitol building. Along with the road diet, the sidewalks will be widened to make way for a more distinguished and comfortable pedestrian corridor. Concord 20/20 envisions an elegant and pedestrian-focused street that will serve as New Hampshire’s iconic Main Street. Our hope is that a great concept design resulting from a number of public meetings will lead to design and construction in the very near future.
During the public process, residents and merchants may well want to discuss with us what makes a street pleasantly “walkable.”
We believe that eight essential factors contribute to a quality pedestrian experience. The “walkability” of a sidewalk, a pedestrian pathway, or a community can be evaluated by the degree to which these factors in the aggregate are achieved.
1. Continuity of pathways occurs when adequate walkways and other pedestrian features are provided in an uninterrupted sequence from one destination to another. Continuous linkages are essential in developing a pedestrian network.
2. Coherence in a pedestrian environment is achieved when adequate orientation, direction, and logical route choices are clearly offered to the pedestrian. The perception of system coherence is also achieved when pedestrian facilities are well integrated with surrounding urban spaces and other transportation modes.
3. Convenience is achieved when pedestrian travel is easy and uncomplicated, with minimal delay. Convenience results primarily from unobstructed pathways of ample width, ramps and signal timing ,which accommodate the mobility needs of all pedestrians, and generous opportunities for pedestrians to link with other modes of transit.
4. Security is a positive perception enhanced by adequate night lighting, open lines of sight for pedestrians and police, and lively street activity. Building uses which generate active use of the sidewalk contribute a large measure to the pedestrian’s feeling of security.
5. Safety can be provided by separating pedestrians from vehicular traffic as much as possible, including cars, bicycles, trucks and buses. Safety can also be promoted by controlling the street environment through “traffic calming” measures such as narrowing or decreasing lanes to slow vehicles, creating shorter intervals of moving traffic, timing traffic signals for pedestrian preference, and using paving materials to accentuate pedestrian zones.
6. Comfort and attractiveness are created in pedestrian ways by features such as weather protection, shade tree planting, smooth-surface paving materials, opportunities to rest, public toilet facilities, and other pedestrian amenities which add a sense of visual excitement and interest to the walking experience.
7. Cleanliness and good physical maintenance are essential trademarks of an inviting pedestrian experience. Walking is always more enjoyable when one senses that someone clearly cares about the condition of the physical environment.
8. Visual excitement is a quality that great city streets exhibit. This is created by such things as the color of awnings or banners, the movement of tree leaves, changing light and shade, eye-catching store windows or even flower pots and window boxes. All contribute to a rich visual sensation and therefore a vibrant street.
posted by Karen Euler
A campus rain garden through the seasons
CRJA’s team for projects at the University of Rhode Island designed and oversaw the construction of this rain garden at the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences (CBLS). Since it was constructed, admirers have commented on its success not only as a successful sustainable design feature, but as a commanding visual presence. Here, a look at the rain garden through the seasons:
1. The stone and steel within the rain garden provide visual interest while the landscape hibernates for winter.
2. Multi-colored astilbes steal the show in springtime, blooming and signaling the awakening of rain garden plantings.
3. Birds and butterflies arrive in numbers while the foliage of the perennials and ornamental grasses peaks in summer.
4. Bronze tones of the astilbes create eye-catching contrast with the golden hues of the ornamental grasses in fall.
by Lisa Esterrich (all text and photos)