An affordable housing development in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood north of downtown Denver, Viña demonstrates how design can advance housing, sustainability and economic development while celebrating identity, history and culture. The first phase of development focused on providing truly affordable housing, a local clinic and a grocery store for this underserved community. A central courtyard amenity was designed to accommodate both residents of Viña and the clinic next door. This colorful space features play elements, an open lawn, and a gathering space with outdoor grills, seating and a fire pit. The vibrant community features art in many forms, including a sculptural light feature at the entrance to the community courtyard, brightly colored site furnishings, lush plantings and custom murals by local artists. Future phases of development will focus on additional multifamily and senior housing opportunities, mixed-use, parking, office and retail. Viña was one of 12 projects that received a 2022 Denver Mayor’s Design Award, which recognizes projects throughout the city for excellence in architecture, exterior design and placemaking.
The Great Salt Lake was recently predicted to disappear in five years, which imperils ecosystems and exposes millions of people to toxic dust from the drying lakebed. This warning increases urgency for solutions in the face of the region’s megadrought. This is the first regional plan for upstream resources and focuses on the most populous and rapidly urbanizing area of Utah. The plan inspires shared aspirations for a 100-year vision to revitalize 129 miles of waterways and connect people through greenways flowing from the Wasatch Range.
Unity in approach and widespread support were key goals, as past spot-treatment projects have been piecemeal attempts that do not address complex challenges and interrelated issues. The plan creation process is celebrated as a model for collaborative solution-finding for large landscapes, including nine municipal partners and engagement of thousands of community members and technical experts. The Seven Greenways Vision plan represents hope, with actionable steps for climate resilience, improved wildlife habitat and water quality, connecting people to nature, and the enjoyment of water in an oasis on desert’s edge.
Catalyzed by a family’s appreciation of horticulture, and their desire to create a distinct landscape that celebrates a mile-high location, the landscape architect forged a plan that merges nature and nurture, creating a cultivated oasis in the heart of an urban location. Horticulture and design converge in a three-acre residential garden, effectively transporting the owners and their guests through the myriad of diverse and extraordinary landscapes of Colorado. The result is a modern home, set in the heart of urban Denver, surrounded by sweeping meadows, perennial wildflowers, rocky outcroppings, aspen woodlands, coniferous forests, open water, and dry stream courses.
‘Voices of the Lake: Lake Monona’s waterfront’ is a community-driven vision to transform Madison, Wisconsin’s lake edge into an accessible, activated and ecologically healthy waterfront park. The landscape architect-led multidisciplinary team created an aspirational and actionable master plan that reimagines 1.7 miles of shoreline as an ecologically and culturally vibrant lakefront community park—with stronger and safer connections to downtown, expanded recreational opportunities, park destinations, trails for all users at all speeds, improved water quality, and enhanced nearshore and aquatic habitats. The plan, which will be implemented in four phases, is notable for its commitment to sustainability, cultural history and meaningful incorporation of public feedback. A Story Walk weaves together park districts and serves as a wayfinding element. It celebrates and amplifies community dialogues and cultural stories, in particular lending voice to the Indigenous origins of Madison through quotes and graphics. The design blueprint for Lake Monona’s waterfront was informed by extensive outreach, including a record-breaking number of responses to a community survey.
Zilker Metropolitan Park Vision Plan, the first comprehensive plan in the park’s history since 1917, tackles challenges faced by this iconic Austin destination. The park is immensely popular due to its proximity to downtown and Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring-fed pool with crystal clear waters. Because of heavy visitation, the park is experiencing ecological degradation, limited accessibility, and overuse issues. Austin’s oldest metropolitan park has seen little change over the years. Serving as a recreational hub with major facilities and events, Zilker Park plays a vital role in the community. To preserve it for future generations, a comprehensive Vision Plan has been developed.
This project stands out through its commitment to community engagement. Collaborating with the community, the plan secures support and funding. Addressing programming, maintenance, environmental features, historic preservation, transportation and mobility, and operations, the plan provides strategies for the park’s restoration and future stewardship. Through careful planning, and outlining of partnerships, operational strategies, revenue generation, and financial sustainability, the plan provides city leadership with a roadmap for the park’s longevity.
Southeast Colorado Springs is home to 70,000 residents, representing diverse cultures, abilities, incomes, and religions. A partnership between the client and a non-profit mobilized around the idea that Panorama Park can be a catalyst for renewed economic vitality and cultural expression in the underrepresented Southeast neighborhood. The landscape architect led the design of the park’s $8M renovation, which has created a place where the community comes together: featuring a central plaza with interactive water feature, an event lawn for performances, a universally accessible play area, a youth-focused area, athletic fields, and a bike challenge course designed to be fully integrated into the site’s drainage and detention system – all to get people moving and connect to nature.
Once a neglected, unsafe space, Panorama Park today is revitalized and is the result of a fully engaged community that ‘came to the table’ to design a park that meets the recreational needs of the residents and has become a symbol of equity and inclusion in the revitalized, empowered Southeast.
With the philosophy that “a lot of a little can be far more effective than a little of a lot”, the Denver Green Continuum: Streets Guidelines was born to provide context, guidance, and inspiration for implementing a variety of green infrastructure strategies designed to reduce stormwater runoff, improve water quality, and mitigate urban heat along streets in Denver. The Continuum aims to provide a robust, versatile, and practical set of tools and solutions that are applicable to all types of city streets and conditions across the arid west region – regardless of MS4 permit requirements. The Continuum categorizes green infrastructure into five “Levels of Green” (LoG) that balance stormwater runoff controls with natural resource health and experiential life-quality characteristics. The Continuum is a progressive planning guide that documents the Continuum philosophy; the criteria for each LoG; the Components and Control Measures that may make up LoG’s; and summarizes the analysis and engineering principles behind the criteria.
The rehabilitation of infrastructure along the South Platte River offered a framework for Arkins Park & Promenade, a critical new urban park in Denver’s emerging RiNo Art District. Before construction, the site held a vehicle service center and a crumbling road; however, it was surrounded by opportunities — the river as a place-making focal point, ongoing adjacent development, and the district’s artistic culture.
Arkins is more than a park to fit the site, it is bespoke to its people. A thorough grassroots public outreach revealed their desire to transform the buildings, promote consistent programming, deliver water quality measures, and reflect the neighborhood’s gritty, industrial character. To achieve this diversity of needs, the team balanced multiple competing visions within the design: shaggy riparian meets clean modern, rugged industrial meets elegant resilience, inspiring play meets stormwater functionality. Cardinal among these priorities was always respect. Respect the river, respect the .
The Arkins Project is a work of reinvention asking and answering the question: what does it mean to build an urban park.
How do you reconstruct a deteriorating iconic modernist landscape sculpture with respect to the artist intent and the contemporary knowledge of materials, construction methods and site context without clear documentation from the artist?
Marble Garden, created in 1955 by Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer at the Aspen Institute campus, is widely considered one of the first examples of landscape as sculpture. The sculpture consists of a series of twenty-one upright marble slabs set on a 36 foot square marble aggregate concrete base, with an inset 12 foot square reflecting pool and fountain.
The landscape architect was engaged in 2019 to reconstruct the Marble Garden because its disintegrating condition had made it a liability within Aspen Institute campus. Structurally unsound marble pieces and water damage to the concrete base resulted in unsafe conditions for visitors. Initial research revealed that pieces of marble were moved or had been re-oriented. The landscape architect completed a definitive reconstruction employing rigorous historic research and construction evidence to establish Bayer’s aesthetic intent and the technical applications required for authentic reconstruction.
As the world recovers from the pandemic and the Belmont, NC area continues to develop and grow, there is a new level of appreciation for the natural world, enjoyment of open spaces and opportunities to experience and learn about nature. There is no better time to consider how the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden can better serve the Charlotte region and the planet. This Master Plan expands the garden’s mission beyond the existing formal gardens to envision an exceptional outdoor experience instilling a love of nature and beauty, appealing to a diverse audience, and building resiliency in a changing climate.
Key to the process was refinement of the garden’s operating model to ensure financial sustainability through new revenue streams, increased funding from donors, and significant membership and attendance increases. The master plan goes beyond programming and site design to address immediate capital needs to maintain the garden’s current assets and staffing while also outlining a business plan to increase annual revenues by $1 Million.
Over a ten-week period during summer 2022, seven interns from diverse backgrounds collaborated on a team project—with a real client and site—and delivered a green infrastructure roadmap to support a community-led, equity-focused urban greening effort in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood.
A historically Black neighborhood with a rich cultural history, Five Points faces built environment challenges resulting from discriminatory redlining, years of disinvestment, and climate change. A grassroots coalition of community members seeking to launch resident-led “greening” of the neighborhood requested support to advance their community engagement efforts and worked closely with the interns.
The interns created a roadmap that empowers community leaders to communicate and advocate for the value of green infrastructure, validates residents’ stories of lived experience with data and analysis and identifies priority improvements to maximize the coalition’s limited resources.
Aims Community College sought to redefine its Greeley, Colorado commuter campus by creating a vibrant and connected learning environment. The transformation that followed exemplifies the remarkable results achievable through investments in the user experience, and collaborative and responsive design. The goal was to build a strong sense of community that would enhance the academic mission and celebrate the social aspects of campus life. Key objectives revitalized the heart of campus, established seamless campus connectivity, and expanded access to purposeful outdoor space. The substantial resources dedicated to crafting a dynamic campus environment enrich the student experience and foster an enduring sense of community.
Severe drought in California triggered two statewide emergency water conservation regulations in 2022. Los Angeles’s water-demanding ornamental landscapes exacerbate the water crisis, biodiversity loss, and disconnection between Angelenos and native landscapes. As a forward-thinking institution, UCLA endeavors to create climate adaptive landscapes that address place, community and ecology. The UCLA Landscape Plan envisions an integrated landscape framework that is inspired by historic ecology and contemporary microclimates. Pioneering strategies established in the Los Angeles Biodiversity Index, the Plan sets up a model for biodiversity enhancement in the region.
UCLA’s prestigious campus, challenged by urgent climate threats, layers of historical influences, constrained physical footprint, is further at risk as student population continues to grow. UCLA must reimagine its iconic landscape to be environmentally resilient, equally accessible, visually unified, and fiscally viable. The Plan guides changes based on three transformative ideas: landscape zones, campus as ecosystem, design and programming, monitored through total asset management. Shaped by diverse voices, the Plan aims to foster landscape cultural change and guide the campus community in transitioning to a climate adaptive future.
The existing Soda Springs Park is situated in the heart of Historic Downtown Manitou Springs, Colorado. A master plan update was developed in collaboration with the community and parks board. The plan focused on activating the undeveloped and under-utilized west end of the park as the first phase of construction. This “revitalized beginning” resulted in an exemplary tribute to the park’s surrounding natural environment and creek system, the historic and geologic wonders of the region, and the growing needs of the community connectivity and open space. The design prioritized having a restored sense of safety and functionality with the existing developed area of the park by including a decorative plaza, unique play area, accessible walkways and seating, boulder creek access with consideration to the local ecosystem and floodplain, security lighting, and a new flexible lawn to support day use and annual park events. This completed portion of the park anchors the space with engaging, multigenerational recreational activities. The park improvements have been enthusiastically received by residents and visitors and created momentum for future park improvements.
Challenging the notion of the traditional American subdivision, this 1.2-acre Eastern Idaho garden reflects a landscape of minimal impact and purposeful stewardship. Inspired by adjacent rolling grasslands, ecologically diverse wetlands, and distant vistas, the planting palette mimics the indigenous landscape, blurring boundaries between gardenesque and natural landscape.
Tributary boldly redefines design guidelines, addressing sustainability measures of water consumption, stormwater management and groundwater recharge, wetland preservation, dark sky protection, migration patterns, and visual continuity of the rural landscape. The design restores 90% of the landscape, bolsters streamflow, and exceeds the required planting guidelines by 200%.
Reid Park Reimagined was more than a park planning effort for Tucson’s “central park.” It was a process of engaging the Tucson community to envision how climate adaptation and heat resilience, and authentic Southwestern culture and ecologies can be interwoven in the city’s only major urban park through a focus on thermal comfort and water use. The planning effort involved a comprehensive, equitable and multifaceted community discovery process with over a dozen public events and interactive online surveys, a dynamic project website, and thousands of interactions and conversations that captured stakeholder voices. In a bilingual city divided in access to cool, shady open space, with vulnerable populations disparately impacted by climate change, Gene C. Reid Park is reimagined as a recreationally and culturally rich gathering place for diverse users, in an ecologically honest landscape reflecting the climate of the Sonoran Desert. Championed by a community that craves contact with native ecology, the plan for this beloved community asset uses water intelligently to provide comfortable play and fitness interwoven with experiences of plant and animal life.
The Cherry Creek Greenway project was a collaborative project intended to mitigate detrimental impacts to Cherry Creek from decades of urbanization and flooding in an area rich with Denver’s heritage, and which comprises one of the most heavily used trail segments in the City. The client group aspired to expand flood capacity, bolster channel stability, enhance natural function, and better the experiential qualities of the 40-acre and 1-mile-long reach of severely degraded creek corridor just upstream of downtown Denver. Prior to the project, severe degradation and erosion resulted in a 10- to 20-foot-deep incised channel that disconnected the floodplain from natural hydrology – ultimately exacerbating the loss of healthy vegetation and habitat, and threatening urban infrastructure including major utilities, trails, and roads. Since its completion in early 2022, the project has surpassed expectations for restored stream-corridor function while improving flood conveyance, integrating over 2 miles of new trails, crossings, and community connections, enhancing habitat and water quality, and creating better open-space recreation.
Platte Farm Open Space, a 5.5-acre parcel that was once contaminated land, a dumping ground for industrial waste and trash, is now a thriving community space that comes alive each spring with mixed native grasses, wildflowers, trees, and pollinator gardens. The parcel is located in the culturally diverse, working-class Globeville neighborhood of North Denver within the Asarco Superfund site boundaries where the now closed smelter plant polluted the groundwater, surface water and soil. In 1994, the Globeville community won an unprecedented class action lawsuit that demanded extensive cleanup which included the removal and replacement of the existing soil. The residents of Globeville continued to advocate their vision for the rehabilitation of the land as an open, natural space where residents and visitors of all ages and abilities can recreate, exercise, and reconnect with nature. After nearly fourteen years, through strategic partnerships and persistence, this resident-led initiative is now recognized as a significant community amenity with trails, pollinator gardens, green infrastructure improvements and is a vital piece to the City of Denver future planning efforts.
When Lakeland Railyard, a major freight hub in Central Florida, closed in 1952, it abandoned an industrial landscape that had been degraded since the 1880s. In 2015, recognizing that metro Lakeland is one of the fastest growing regions in the country and building upon the city’s strong tradition of parks and natural areas, local enthusiasts proposed the creation of a new central park. Completed in 2022, Bonnet Springs Park is the result of an extensive community outreach, master planning and design process led by the landscape architect and a multidisciplinary team to create an ecological jewel, a cultural magnet, and a connected community asset. The park features heritage gardens, a canopy walk, botanic gardens, playgrounds, and an event lawn. Walking and biking paths connect major park spaces with three new buildings. The design remediates the former industrial landscape and restores natural systems–removing invasive exotic plants, treating stormwater with wetlands and bioswales, and capping contaminated soil in large hills that also function as overlooks. The park welcomes diverse visitors and reinforces links to previously disconnected neighborhoods.
The reconstruction of Vermijo Avenue and Sierra Madre Street connects Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s recently completed United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum to the historic Tejon Street, Downtown Colorado Springs’ most active north-south street. The street-section was narrowed from 140’ to 120’ and includes a one-block barrier-free “festival street” – designed for pedestrians as well as large outdoor community gatherings and festivals. Approximately 75% of the width of the street has been dedicated to pedestrians, with a 31’ treelined pedestrian promenade anchoring the north edge of the roadway. With this large-scale street reconstruction, utilities were relocated and upgraded to accommodate the influx of dense urban real estate expected on fronting parcels. Pivotal to the project’s success was the “right-sizing” of the right-of-way to accommodate a new promenade, reducing the scale of the city blocks, providing a pedestrian oriented street experience, and addressing traffic and circulation needs around Vermijo Avenue and Sierra Madre Street to support the growth and development of the Park Union Neighborhood.
As part of the beloved Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, The Backcountry Garden provides influential, outdoor experiences that create formative connections between visitors and the natural world. This adventurous portion of the garden provides a stimulating space where children, families and visitors can manipulate, create, climb and interact with the natural environment around them. The Backcountry Garden activates sight, touch, sound, smell and taste to create deeper emotional connections to the great outdoors. The space celebrates the natural ecology by allowing the environment to direct the programming and design of the spaces. This site pays homage to the historical structures, cultural influences and donor groups that have helped shaped the garden. BrightView Design Group worked closely with the Botanic Garden staff and local stakeholders to provide a whimsical design that promotes a sense of curiosity, risk-taking and joy in uncovering the lessons the backcountry experience has to offer.
Set prominently in downtown Aspen, Colorado, this 4-acre residential project nestles into an existing mature conifer grove overlooking the Hallam Lake Nature Preserve, with distant views of Aspen’s ski slopes and surrounding mountain peaks. The design team took great care in acknowledging the property’s rich historical ties to the prominent Paepcke family and former location of the Given Institute. The project’s objective is to comprehensively understand and deeply respect the larger-scale environmental factors. Prior to embarking on the design process, significant effort was dedicated to thorough site analysis. This meticulous approach ensures a comprehensive understanding of the site’s unique characteristics and allows for the development of a design that harmonizes with and respects the surrounding environment. From the beginning, the highest emphasis was placed on preservation of the existing mature trees and this intention was successfully carried through nearly eight years, design to completion.
Chattanooga is home to world-class parks and a breathtaking natural environment, but the city currently falls short of equitably delivering the life-changing benefits of parks. Some neighborhoods are better served than others, and for 25 years the city has lacked a strategic, community-supported vision to guide park investments.
That’s where the Parks and Outdoors Plan (POP) comes in. The landscape architect team took a critical look at the current park and outdoor system—including the quality and condition of existing parks; the facility count per population compared to current and future needs; and which communities lack basic access to the health and economic benefits of high-quality parks. Based on this analysis and thousands of community conversations, the POP offers a roadmap and path forward to reinvent Chattanooga as a city in a park.
Already the POP has launched the city’s bid to become the first National Park City in the western hemisphere; garnered $265 million in new funding for park improvements; and rallied people across the city around the promise of their parks and outdoors.
The Pollinators’ and Bird Garden in Center County, Pennsylvania is the direct extension of an ongoing research agenda to understand and explain the recent decrease in pollinator and bird populations across the world. Conducted in close collaboration with a leading institution for pollinator research, the purpose of the project is to disseminate knowledge on pollinator and bird habitats. The 3-acre garden now offers multiple new opportunities: 1) to directly convey and interpret scientific research being conducted on site, 2) to offer an engaging place for people to learn about pollinator and bird habitats, 3) and to inspire everyone to create habitats within their own private gardens, which could significantly grow healthier networks across the developed landscape. The ultimate goals of the project are to enhance biodiversity, to encourage appreciation and care for the natural world, and to demonstrate that healthy, functioning ecosystems are beautiful.
‘Working Water: Reinventing the Storm Drain’ demonstrates how the vision of Ian McHarg, described over fifty years ago in his book Design with Nature, can be implemented to better manage urban water resources in ways that support more efficient water use, clean urban runoff, support natural systems, and enhance the vitality and livability of our cities. ‘Working Water’ evolved as a reflection on multiple decades of Wenk Associates professional work. Much more than a richly illustrated monograph, it is “a wide-ranging exploration of the role of water practically, spiritually, and as a quintessential element of the survival of our species.”
Problems of degradation of urbans rivers and stream are well-known, and rivers are flooding across the nation make this issue more urgent. ‘Working Water’ is a call to action to those who influence the built environment about the importance and opportunities of designing systemically with water
Set within the high elevation windswept grassland of Southwest Colorado, the 220-acre property is surrounded by expansive views to Telluride’s most iconic peaks and rolling vistas. An existing residence in a neighborhood that had been subdivided with intrusive earthwork, the challenge was to return the property to its natural, resilient character within a myriad of site and environmental hurdles. The project aims to not only understand, but respect the larger scale environmental factors such as elevation, weather and wildlife that contribute to the ecosystem of the landscape. The design mirrored natural riparian systems to restore two ponds, distill the palette of formal and native plantings around the residence, and create authentic amenity spaces that complement the experience of a luxurious residence in the west. A true collaboration between client, design team and contractor, the landscape and ecological specialists maintained an adaptable process over the course of several years to bring the property back to its ecological integrity.
In 2010, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA), received a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Very Small Starts Grant to implement the first and only rural Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the country. Extending over 40 miles in the Roaring Fork Valley and connecting communities from Glenwood Springs to Aspen, the system encompasses seven political jurisdictions and three USDA plant hardiness zones.
Through a competitive bid process, the landscape architect was engaged by RFTA to transform seven BRT stations and three park-and-ride lots from placeless, generic-looking bus stops into environments whose consistency in design, planning, signage, and educational elements supports and encourages community ridership. Creative and brand-consistent solutions, inspired by BRT’s VelociRFTA branding, reference local geology applied at each station, while utilizing sustainable materials such as minimized snowmelt paving for safe access during winter months, native plantings, pervious paving in park and ride lots, high-efficiency irrigation systems, four-season seating areas, ample covered bike parking, bathrooms, and safe pedestrian connectivity.
Rarely does a city build a park that sets a new standard for ecological restoration and sparks a paradigm shift for the design, programming, and funding of future public parks across the world. The Ellinikon Metropolitan Park and Coastal Front is doing just that—striving to become the social heart of Athens, and Europe’s largest urban coastal park. The site contains traces of multiple histories—prehistoric settlements, once thriving agriculture, an obsolete international airport, and a dilapidated collection of former Olympic venues. After nearly two decades of work to establish a funding and governance mechanism and multiple rounds of master plans, the center of Europe’s largest urban redevelopment project is the 600 acre (243 hectare) park, which will be gifted back to the citizens of Athens with a private entity responsible for operating and maintaining the park for 99 years. The park’s design centers on ecological restoration, material reuse, and cultural programming that honors the site’s layered histories while introducing novel experiences in a city that does not have a public park at this scale.
Sugar Beet Park is a profoundly impactful park to the residents of Fort Collins, particularly to Mexican/Hispanic residents of the Tres Colonias neighborhoods, where basic infrastructure, transportation, and open space needs have a history of neglect. As a cultural bridge, the park celebrates the rich heritage of the sugar beet in Fort Collins, a large and quirky vegetable that transformed Fort Collins into the nation’s largest sugar producer in the early 20th century. With a brightly colored wooden vegetable as the centerpiece, the park restores honor and significance to those who labored in the sugar beet fields; recognizing the unmistakable contributions of migrant workers to the economic and cultural development of the city, while creating a fun-filled, enriching park environment enveloped by a native Colorado landscape.
When a historic church was granted rights to develop a section of Arapahoe Street in downtown Golden, Colorado, they called a well-known landscape architect to brainstorm. Considering multiple options over several years, the church was unwavering in their goal to create a space that would build community and serve as the heart of the city. Aligning with Golden’s 2030 plan to make the city more green, walkable and social, the landscape architect helped to envision a plaza that has since become a popular town square.
Elements include abundant landscaping, cafe seating, custom lighting and woodwork, a water feature, accessible ramps and terraced steps – including built-in infrastructure for future use as an amphitheater – and an expanded parking deck that has helped to address a city-wide need not only for parking but also for event space. The project turned an extremely steep and barely functional street into an active pedestrian thoroughfare, connecting the adjacent Colorado School of Mines and residential neighborhoods with the Washington Street retail district and Clear Creek’s active recreation hub a few blocks away.