Baotou Vanke Central Park transformed a former wasteland into a lush landscape of lake, rolling hills, meadows and gardens. The design was shaped by an extensive community process and is now celebrated as an important destination and center for Baotou City. The most dramatic aspect of the site transformation has been the restoration of its ecosystem – carve pedestrians to create new green spaces a new freshwater lake, to bring Baotou’s water into the open, new forest types and amended soils respond to the design’s microclimates and showcase a diversity of species specifically suited to each area.
The 84th Streetscape project reimagines a mile-long stretch of a state highway that extends through the middle of the city of La Vista, a southwest suburb of Omaha. What was once a thriving commercial corridor in the automobile age has not adapted well to changing market conditions, leaving struggling pad development and low vacancy in its wake. The City established a vision and to create a new central city core along 84th Street that speaks to a more resilient future.
The 84th Street project represents a process of liberation for the community of La Vista. Through consensus-building public engagement and outreach that identified key stakeholders and the local Youth Council as project champions, the city was empowered to relinquish control of the state highway right-of-way for a greater and more comprehensive benefit. What is now an undefined roadway landscape will be transformed into an extensive greenway. This will offer greater separation and comfort for pedestrian and provide greater mobility options within a linear park-like setting.
Aria Denver is a diverse, intergenerational, mixed-income, urban infill neighborhood designed intentionally to create community with a focus on the health of its residents and the surrounding neighborhoods. The ideals of community and environmental stewardship are instilled by the Sisters of St. Francis, the former owners of the property, and are woven into all aspects of the Aria Denver development. Located within one block of Regis University, the Aria Denver Neighborhood fosters a unique relationship with the University, along with other project partners, for learning new skills, to maximize personal health, and establish physical connectivity for a neighborhood that was severely isolated by Federal Boulevard and I-70. Programs established onsite promote an active lifestyle with walking paths and exercise facilities, increase access to healthy food including a one-acre production garden and community plots, and with Regis, offer integrated health services for a community that is designated a “food and health care desert.” Dedicated to environmental sustainability, Aria Denver commits to conserving energy, planting drought-tolerant/water-wise landscapes, and employing durable materials.
Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park is a park and natural area along the Big Thompson River and US34. The park was destroyed in 2013 by a devasting flood. This reconstruction was the opportunity to create a more resilient river and public park that is appropriate for its setting in the Foothills Life Zone of the Rocky Mountains. The park features a realigned and more natural river, native aquatic and terrestrial habitat restoration, trails, picnic areas, river access, and educational exhibits and structures. A unique platform provides an authentic river fishing experience for users of all abilities, overlooks and benches are located along the trails, and visitors can learn about the history and ecology of the site. Remnants of a 1920’s hydroelectric plant, a settlers’ cabin from the 1860s, Civilian Conservation Corps shelters, and other historic structures provide not only visual interest, but are a reminder that many lessons learned in the past are still relevant today. The park is loved by Loveland residents and visitors, and is at capacity every weekend that it is open.
Located in the highly desirable Double Bar X Ranch, this 4.8-acre lot within an agricultural easement was treated with the utmost respect for the surrounding meadow. The house all but disappears into the adjacent landscape from the vantage point of passersby, achieved through an extensive vegetated roof system. Inspired by the client’s love of art and the sculptural design on the grounds of the Scottish National Gallery, the defining element of the landscape architecture is a raised grassy ‘embrace’, a meandering linear dance between man-made and natural, containing human activities within, while transitioning to the wild beyond. The whimsical berm, deliberately designed as functional land art to stage the client’s burgeoning sculpture collection, doubles as stormwater facilities in lieu of depressions. The incorporation of a reflecting pool and water cascades adjacent to the stairs enhance the serene tranquility of the home, as well as providing an additional reflective dynamic sculptural element. The unkempt “bad hair day” effect of the textured grass adds the final sculptural touch to the outdoor space of this unique residence.
Common struggles for hundred-year-old downtown parks include periods of disinvestment, safety concerns, failing infrastructure, social stigmas of the unhoused, and environmental stressors. These are complex societal topics that park design alone is unable to solve. The Downtown Historic Parks Master Plan wrestled with these topics for three parks and the downtown simultaneously, studying the past, evaluating current policies and influences, and sparking community conversations about the future. Like a folktale the history contains glory, tragedy, and the project provides universal moral lessons with hope of transformation.
Once upon a time, the Colorado Springs city founders granted three blocks to become parks for this growing frontier town. As decades passed the urban fabric changed around the parks, their purposes faded. Prominence greeting train passengers was no more and their games and dances no longer delighted. The parks languished into secret gardens of trees, enjoyed by few. This is the story of how four-thousand community members reimagined these parks as vital places, how they prepared for climate threats, and investments to welcome all and reflect the people.
Downtown Denver is booming. But while the center city has seen billions of dollars in private investment over the past two decades, public investment in parks has not kept pace. With thousands of new residents and an expanding local economy bringing a diversity of needs, the formal civic spaces that are typical to Downtown are not meeting the daily expectations of the residents, visitors, students, and employees that use them. The Outdoor Downtown provides a 20-year blueprint for the future of Downtown’s parks and public spaces through the strategic partnership of the public and private sectors. The plan aims to re-establish a collective stewardship of the entire public realm of Downtown Denver and invest in people and places that will transform the way we value public space.
The Curtis Park Residence landscape was designed to reflect the vibrant neighborhood in which it sits. Curtis Park located north of downtown Denver, is a neighborhood that embraces its industrial heritage, celebrates art, community and creativity in a real and raw manner. The intent was to celebrate and honor that context with a fresh and modernist approach. The
owner, a father of two daughters, wanted a pool, outdoor fireplace, outdoor dining, rock climbing wall, basketball court, lawn space, a rooftop garden and a dog run. The landscape
architect was able to harmonize the indoor and outdoor spaces while complementing the modernist architecture with clean lines and geometric forms. To further honor the context of
the site, the landscape architect worked to preserve trees, structural elements, and reuse brick from the original structure with a careful and refined approach. Walls made of the reclaimed brick frame the space while new concrete is interconnected with existing structures. Enveloped within those walls each area of the garden has its own unique and intimate feeling and purpose.
Montbello Open Space Park fulfills a local community’s vision to transform a degraded vacant site into an ecological much needed open space for northeast Denver. Realized through the local non-profit organizations and its partners, the site is now a 5.5-acre natural open space and outdoor learning laboratory serving a predominantly Hispanic, Multiracial, and African American community that traditionally lacked equitable access to public parks and outdoor experiences. As the city’s first nature education park, this project brings much needed open space with important experiences for healthy active recreation and learning.
This dynamic landscape is a restored short grass prairie ecosystem of native plant communities, green infrastructure that filters stormwater and a robust system of park features for play, outdoor skills development and immersion in science, art, and nature. Designed in collaboration with the community and the non-profit’s students, Montbello Open Space Park is the living laboratory for environmental programs. Youth play a key role as emerging leaders, serving as Urban Rangers sharing programs with the community, and serving as mentors and park stewards.
Over the last 30 years, skateparks have become a regular component of comprehensive parks and recreation systems throughout the nation. Upon completion of the final phase of construction in 2002, the Denver Skatepark was met with great excitement and fanfare. The Tony Hawk Gigantic Skatepark Tour held an exhibition at this skatepark where crowds to see the famous skateboarder were over 20-people deep.
Since opening, the Denver Skatepark has consistently found itself on top 10 lists throughout the skateboard sport and lifestyle communities, even now –nearly twenty years later. The skate options include both street and vertical/bowl (“vert”) features for varied experiences and provide options for children testing their limits for the first time to seasoned skateboarders looking for a challenge and fun.
The story of this iconic skatepark starts with a grassroots effort that gained traction with city officials and staff, received support and input from skate communities and experts, and was brought to fruition through innovative and highly technical design. It has since become a celebrated and recognized feature of Denver’s urban fabric.
The initial phase of the larger Panoway on Wayzata Bay project, the Lake Street Plaza, was a collaborative effort between engineers, economists, ecologists, architects, landscape architects, contractors, city staff, and the community of Wayzata. Developed through a robust and inclusive community engagement process resulting in City Council approval, the outcome was a community focused on improving their most valuable natural resource, a lakefront experience of Lake Minnetonka. It was designed as a place for Wayzatans to come together and enjoy all that Lake Minnetonka has to offer. The initial phase of the Panoway project included replacing an existing municipal parking lot with a community plaza and narrowing Lake Street which allowed for a new dedicated bike lane and expanded sidewalk. The project also included new gathering spaces such as an interactive water feature, , and outdoor dining opportunities along the northside of Lake Street. By prioritizing pedestrians over vehicles, the project has allowed Wayzata to reclaim its lakefront and provide an amenity that accommodates users of all ages.
A modernist vision of simplicity, volume, and natural materials, the landscape architecture of Andesite Ridge Retreat employs a creative combination of engineering, technology, and artistry to capture and manage on-site stormwater in a manner that responds to challenging site conditions while acting as an experiential art installation, one that celebrates the imposing infinite boundaries of a landscape shaped by wind, fire, and the erosive power of flowing water and ice.
The design—an artful composition of bold geometries and textures—calls attention to a dramatic and ecologically-rich environment through a series of restrained interventions that extend the visual and functional relationships of the home into the landscape, while simultaneously dissolving the barrier between designed space and natural environment. This approach, when synthesized with strategic site planning decisions, proper forest management, and vigorous construction management practices, results in a home and garden, crisply executed through a nocturnal palette of stone, steel, and wood, that disappears into the surrounding forest, successfully protecting the site’s visual character, and reinforces the client’s environmental values.
[COMMUNICATION PROJECT] Drone Technology in Architecture, Engineering and Construction: A Strategic Guide to Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operation and Implementation is the only process-driven, step-by-step handbook to implement drone technology in AEC workflows. It provides a comprehensive and practical roadmap for landscape architecture, engineering, and construction firms to incorporate drones into their pre-design, design, and construction processes. Authored by two Colorado landscape architects: Daniel Tal, FASLA and Jon Altschuld, ASLA, the book is well on it’s way to becoming the standard resource for practitioners and classes/instructors alike. The book aims to not only educate readers on how drones are being integrated into practice, but also empower them to use these techniques and develop new strategies and workflows to solve complex design issues with drone/UAS/remote sensing technologies.
2020 was the hottest year on record highlighting that we are experiencing the impacts of climate change now. Park and recreation professionals, who serve nearly every U.S. community, are poised to advance climate mitigation and adaptation strategies to build environmental and community resiliency through the power of local parks and recreation. However, understanding the specific climate challenges facing each community and developing associated strategies is difficult and few aggregated resources on the subject exist. Climate.Park.Change, a partnership between a national NGO and a design firm, is an interactive toolkit that overviews climate impacts and strategies to create climate-ready and resilient parks. This toolkit’s initial focus of the Intermountain West was an area identified as lacking in depth research on the impacts from Climate Change. With the goal of growing the geography, Climate.Park. Change is the first tool to clearly communicate and showcase strategies in Operation and Maintenance, Ecological Functionality and Park Users to help communities of all sizes both mitigate and adapt their parks to combat the impacts of climate change.
The evolution of the Sun Valley Neighborhood in Denver provides a view into new planning approaches and analysis methods that center the health, wellbeing, and resilience of communities to overcome decades of disinvestment common to many underserved historic American immigrant neighborhoods. The Sun Valley Revitalization Plan envisions a holistic community that will support existing residents and welcome new neighbors with over 3,000 new homes, 300 jobs, services, parks, gardens, and community spaces in place of today’s concentration of poverty, crime, parking lots, and distressed public housing The neighborhood’s strong social cohesion is a foundation of the Plan that celebrates Sun Valley’s diverse cultures and aims to increase resilience for children, families, and the broader neighborhood. Using equity, health, and wellbeing as a foundation, the Plan centers on access to jobs, training, education, and sustainable infrastructure that benefits the culturally diverse resident population, thus creating an opportunity for the lowest income community in Colorado to grow into a next-generation neighborhood and model of leadership.
River Run Park brought to life a half mile section of the South Platte River by providing enhanced recreation, neighborhood connectivity and river health while maintaining flood protection. The park corridor runs along the river through the cities of Englewood and Sheridan, Colorado and has become a favorite destination for the community.
The channelization of this segment of the river addressed the historic flood of 1965, but adversely impacted the habitat, stream ecology and aesthetics of the corridor. Over the years, drop structures in the channelized river began to fail, causing erosion, stream degradation and unsafe river recreation. The site ties in with a popular multi-use trail (Mary Carter Greenway) that extends 20 miles along the South Platte on the western side of the river.
Through a partnership of Arapahoe County, City of Englewood, City of Sheridan, South Suburban Parks and Recreation, Colorado Water Conservation Board and Mile High Flood District, improvements were made to the park between 2016 and 2019 making it an important and cherished community asset.
Founded with the core mission of strengthening the community by serving families and nonprofits to enrich lives and celebrate all cultures, the Jones Campus is a regional destination where families of all socio-economic levels and those who serve them can collaborate and thrive. Developed through an extensive community-based design process that emphasized engaging and empowering the lower-income ethnically diverse populations of Springdale, the Jones Campus Vision re-imagines and modernizes the 52-acres Campus to remain relevant in the ever-changing Northwest Arkansas Region. The project will create an attractive destination that ties into the spine of the Razorback Greenway Trails System as well as planned trail connections to Fitzgerald Mountain and Lake Fayetteville. It will attract a new generation to the Jones Campus, continue to serve the diverse demographic of Northwest Arkansas, and elevate The Jones Center’s core indoor recreation amenities. With sustainability in mind, the project complements and blends seamlessly with the Springdale Downtown Revitalization Master Plan. The Jones Campus Vision establishes a new standard for inclusivity, engagement, and empowerment for the underserved minority populations of Northwest Arkansas.
Designed to serve as the heart of an emerging urban neighborhood, Platte Street Plaza has transformed an underutilized pedestrian and bicycle passage at the base of the Highland Bridge connecting two vibrant Denver neighborhoods into a dynamic public square that supports users and visitors of all kinds. The Plaza’s design creates a delightful public realm within a parklike setting, promoting connection and relaxation and inviting residents, visitors and nearby office workers to pause, engage and explore. The project further exemplifies how public right of way can be rejuvenated through public/private collaboration to better meet the demands of the community, the goals of the sponsoring developer and the City of Denver.
As the project lead, the landscape architect directed the design effort to create a sense of arrival and placemaking, address ADA and grading challenges, coordinate bike and pedestrian circulation and establish the contextual response to new and historic buildings. Through this layered landscape approach, the site design promotes connectivity and enhances circulation, provides a placemaking experience and most importantly, addresses pedestrian safety.
How can parks celebrate local culture and address equity? The Joseph P. Martinez Park Master Plan provides a model for blending environmentally sensitive design with culturally responsive design through a community-driven vision to honor and celebrate the history of Joseph P. Martinez and the community of Villa Park. Located in West Denver, the 12-acre park is embedded in the diverse and underserved west Denver community. With extensive tree canopy and the natural Lakewood Gulch drainage running through the site, the park serves as a respite and a place to gather with family and friends. However, the park has fallen into disrepair and is in desperate need of investment. By focusing on a traditionally underserved neighborhood and community with high-need and limited access/opportunity, the Plan embraces diversity, culture, and people by celebrating and elevating local community identity. The new vision for the park reflects the diverse and rich culture of the neighborhoods, honors its namesake, and enhances the natural ecology of nearby Lakewood Gulch with health and wellness opportunities.
The Civic Center Campus with John Meade Park / Alan Hutto Commons is the heart of the City of Cherry Hills Village. This previously dilapidated site has been transformed into the community’s central gathering space for business, city administration, outdoor recreation, and special events. The campus design celebrates the rural character of the community and its goals of promoting a healthy active lifestyle centered in nature. Natural play spaces, fishing piers, picnic spots, and equestrian and pedestrian trails connect residents to nature. Alan Hutto Commons sculpted amphitheater and lawn and the park’s central shelter bring residents together. It is now a true gathering place, something the city had not had before.
The park and campus are within the redesigned Greenwood Gulch that now effectively manages low water flows and regional floodwaters within an ecologically diverse wetland attracting blue herons, snow egrets and mergansers amongst other bird and wildlife species. On-site stormwater improvements filter parking, street and building stormwater through a system of infiltration basins to improve water quality before drainage enters Greenwood Gulch.
Within East Baton Rouge Parish sits the neighborhood of North Baton Rouge. This predominantly African American community has long seen less investment than other areas. This fact, along with long-term demographic shifts due to out-migration and loss of area institutions, has left the area under-performing in key socioeconomic indicators compared to the rest of the Parish. In 2018, BREC launched an ambitious master planning process for the largest park in the system, the 660-acre Greenwood Park, that set out to reverse the narrative and provide a community centered catalytic project that would serve as a true neighborhood amenity and a regional destination situated in the heart of North Baton Rouge. Through the largest public engagement campaign in BREC’s history, the design team set forth a vision for a multi-year implementation process that would transform the Park, which includes the Baton Rouge Zoo, into a constellation of cultural and recreation programs weaved into a robust ecological network of bayous, forest, and meadows that, for the first time ever, connected seamlessly into the surrounding context.
On its surface, Paco Sanchez Park in Denver’s West Colfax neighborhood is a love letter to music and broadcast – an homage to the city’s first Spanish-speaking broadcaster. But closer inspection reveals the many ways the dynamic and inspiring design is carefully orchestrated to meaningfully impact the wellbeing of a long-underserved community. Play elements are interspersed along a short loop, naturally drawing users to move between activities and elevations as part of the adventure. Each element has been custom-made to reflect and celebrate Paco’s broadcast legacy, including a microphone tower, a gramophone slide, music pod and frequency climber. Even the colors and patterns chosen for the park build the narrative and concept for a full-sensory experience. The park has quickly become a regional draw, but the true measure of its success is the overnight transformation of this disadvantaged community’s relationship to a previously underutilized green space. As a result of the massive increase in local usage, the park is on track to exceed public health goals and become a model for Denver Parks & Recreation.
Shadowrock is believed to be the first built project to use 3D scanning, modeling, and printing to generate precise physical representations of non-standard construction media to enhance the design process, resolve installation issues, and artfully bridge the transfer of ideas between the Landscape Architect’s vision, Owner’s expectations, and Contractor’s needs.
As the landscape architect embarked on a traditional design process to transform an underutilized area on a highly constrained site of less than one-tenth acre in size into an artful expression of stone and water, critical shortcomings centered around expectation management, design intent, and budget control were revealed. To overcome these challenges, the landscape architect proposed a new process, one that synthesizes technology and art in the confines of an intimate garden that interprets the story of its surrounding alpine landscape in a cost-effective manner. The case study illustrates how residential design can serve as an experimental laboratory and effective platform for the emergence of new methodologies, transferable in idea and impact.
Located in the heart of New Orleans’ iconic City Park, Wisner Tract is a 100-acre former golf
course that was completely inundated by Hurricane Katrina. Fifteen years later, with the fairways
abandoned and no major improvements made, the site has become a well-loved urban
wilderness and de facto passive park for neighbors and regional visitors alike.
Wisner Tract’s location provides an opportunity to equitably expand nature access for a large
urban population with few similar options. It also presents a vital opportunity for the park –
through green infrastructure and stormwater management – to absorb urban floodwaters and
prevent neighborhood flooding at the scale seen after Katrina.
By restoring a mosaic of south Louisiana ecosystems, the Wisner Tract Plan will protect the
wildness neighbors have come to love while creating a vibrant new educational and experiential
landscape for all of New Orleans and the region. Its immersive nature-based design leverages
existing ecological assets to promote habitat rehabilitation and ecological education, absorb
floodwaters, increase park visitation, and establish a restorative escape from the urgency of
urban New Orleans.
Beaufort County, SC is home to a complex cultural landscape with a dynamic and complicated past and future. The combined impacts of sea level rise and population growth threaten the significant cultural resources, sustaining ecosystems, working waterfronts and agricultural landscapes that are integral to the county’s cultural lifeways.
The 2020 Beaufort County Greenprint Plan draws on science, local expertise and a community-driven process to promote forward-looking open space conservation practices that will sustain the county’s unique sense of place—balancing future growth, equitable distribution of open space, and anti-displacement strategies—as future climate models predict shifting land uses and land values.
The Greenprint Plan also provides a resiliency and open space protection focus for the county’s comprehensive plan and larger conservation community. The planning team seized this opportunity to blend old methods, such as traditional storytelling, with new digital tools, to allow for robust public engagement during COVID-19. The result is a flexible decision-making tool that embeds the open space values of the community and allows easy updating as new data and science emerge.
An iconic cultural institution, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Museum) seeks to ignite its community’s passion for nature and science. This mission can be seen throughout the interior exhibits of the museum, as one expects. However, two recent additions on the exterior of the building are showing how nature and science are combined to create a dynamic and educational landscape.
The Museum was gifted a new bronze statue – “Snowmastodon” a life-size mastodon sculpture. They wanted to create a garden for the area surrounding the proposed location for the sculpture on the northwest corner of the building. In addition to the new sculpture, the Museum had an existing bronze sculpture – “Grizzly’s Last Stand” – that needed a permanent home. The landscape architect developed a garden concept that placed these sculptures within a landscape that portrayed the flora of the habitat of these majestic creatures. These gardens are placed within a unique threshold between Denver’s City Park and the Museum building, providing a natural and complementary landscape begging to be explored by everyone.
Seeking to attract potential buyers, speculative real estate developers build projects they believe will be financially successful in the marketplace. When innovative design and the advancement of environmental benefits becomes secondary to fiscal return, landscape architecture often resorts to prescribed formulas – consumptive lawns, maintenance intensive plantings, and interactive programming – resulting in projects that turn their back on local ecology.
Realizing the inherent value of landscape architecture to a home specifically built to embrace the surrounding mountain environment, the developer of Prospect House challenged the landscape architect to create of a series of outdoor living spaces that would engage every room in the home with the surrounding environment. Promoting healthy habits and lifestyles through nature became the marketing directive for the project.
Choosing simplicity over complexity and restraint over grandeur, the landscape architect embraced the contextual alpine ecology, threading elements of native plant material throughout. Collectively, the design communicates the benefits of a designed natural landscape, both as a contribution to its surrounding neighborhood, and as a salable commodity in a competitive real estate marketplace.