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Project Highlight: Church Landscape Addition & Renovation

In 2016, the congregation of Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Longmont, Colorado decided to expand their existing building to better serve their growing congregation. The proposed addition to the existing building would impact the existing landscaping, so our company was hired to design the renovation and adjustments of the landscape around the building.

The remodel of the building will be done in multiple phases. So far, phase 1 of the renovations has been constructed.

The rendered landscape plan for the Saint Francis of Assisi Church.

Like many church construction projects, this one had to be cost conscious. Due to budget constraints and various budget reviews, the proposed plantings were adjusted several times during the planning stages to best fit the current needs of the budget.

One particular technical challenge was the assessment and modification of the existing irrigation system and pumps. Our irrigation specialist was dispatched to the field multiple times to work with the Church’s maintenance crew to puzzle out the best way to adjust and modify the existing irrigation system. In the end, we were able to bridge the new and existing irrigation systems into a cohesive whole.

From a planting design perspective, the client had a few key points they wished to address: Blend new and existing plants seamlessly;  create a low maintenance & low water use landscape; and add seasonal focal points to pair with the liturgically appropriate seasonal milestones that are critical to the Church.

Our team worked with the Church’s maintenance team to ensure the plantings and other landscape elements would be low maintenance. Hearty and reliable plant species were chosen for the design. We also wanted the new plantings to blend seamlessly with the existing landscaping. In addition to these criteria for the plants, we also ensured the plantings in the expanded parking lot would not obscure any critical sight lines for pedestrian and vehicle safety.

To create seasonal focal points, we considered different plants that might be at their peak during significant seasonal holidays. One good example of this is forsythia shrubs with their glorious yellow blooms that appear close to Easter, a very significant holiday in the Catholic Church. Not only are the seasonal focal points a visible manifestation of seasonally significant biblical events, these planting nodes provide attractive backdrops for photo opportunities during church sponsored events such as weddings.

Working on the landscape renovations for the Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church was a wonderful experience for our design team.  It was satisfying to help the Church achieve their landscape design goals for their congregation and stay on budget.

This is the official blog of Outdoor Design Group, Colorado Landscape Architects.  For more information about our business and our services, click here.

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Project Highlight: A Neighborhood that incorporates Sustainability and Community Building Principles as its Core Values

As the population boom along Colorado’s front-range continues, many housing developments have been popping up throughout the area in an attempt to satisfy the need to house the burgeoning growth. While many of these new developments tout their environmental and community principles to attract buyers, one PUD (planned unit development) project we have had the opportunity to work on takes those ideas seriously and is truly committed to building a green and inclusive community.

This project, called Main Street Erie, is still in the approval process. When it is ultimately built, Main Street Erie will provide new housing options for the growing town of Erie (located in Weld County), while simultaneously following many of the environmental and community ideals that the citizens of Colorado hold dear to their hearts.

The design of Main Street Erie is informed by New Urbanist concepts and inspired by the idealized small town of America’s yesteryear. White picket fences blend with detached walks, traditional architecture with inviting porches, and cozy alley homes to bring back the charm of an idealized residential development your grandparents may have grown up in as children.

To be efficient with land area, homes are placed closer together with smaller yards. Because most of the lots do not provide a large amount of outdoor space, and also because many of the lots have extra accessory dwelling units (ADU’s), it was determined that a community garden space would be a good addition to the project. A large portion of the property was set aside for a garden area with nearly 30 garden plots. In the community garden spaces, residents can work together getting their hands dirty nurturing their green thumbs, while interacting with their neighbors.

The inclusion of ADUs in this development will help address the need for multiple housing types. ADU’s can help provide variable housing sizes, which in turn may lead to a more diverse cross-section of community members. 

Near the community garden plots will sit a clubhouse with outdoor gathering spaces, including a whimsically oversized chess board to entertain young and old alike.

Just north-east of the clubhouse a large communal lawn space is planned that will make a perfect community gathering spot for residents and their families to relax and have fun with their neighbors. 

This project is an efficient use of the land due to the manner in which housing types are sited together. Homes are situated and designed for maximum solar gain. This will help maximize the efficiency of solar panels. But at the same time, care has been taken to incorporate vines and other plantings along the south sides of buildings to shade the structures from southern exposure, to help minimize heat gain as much as possible.

Main Street Erie has been a great project to be involved with. With no foreseeable slow-down in development along the Front Range of Colorado, it is good to see neighborhoods and communities like Main Street Erie being planned with sustainable and community building aspects being included from beginning.

This is the official blog of Outdoor Design Group, Colorado Landscape Architects.  For more information about our business and our services, click here.

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Project Highlight: Tuscan village inspired site design provides calming oasis for memory care residents.

As the Baby-boomers continue to age, and with Generation X not far behind, the need for assisted living and memory care facilities has been on the rise. Outdoor Design Group has had the opportunity to work on several Assisted Living and Memory Care residential facility projects over the years. One AL/MC project we participated on recently, Landmark Assisted Living, is located in the town of Lafayette, Colorado.

With wonderful clients and a great design team, Landmark Assisted Living and Memory Care was a positive experience for our staff, and something we look back on with pride. This locally owned and operated facility was thoughtfully designed with a unifying landscaped courtyard at the core of the small complex of three buildings.

Landmark Assisted Living and Memory Care overall landscape plan.

The genesis of the idea for this green heart of the site plan came during several different charrette meetings held at our office with the owners, architects, planners, civil engineers and us, the landscape architects. Becoming involved in the project from an early stage helped us insure that the importance of outdoor spaces would be an integral component of this Italianate site design. Inspired by a Tuscan hill town village, an entrance tower concept became one of the key features of the plan.

Three site concepts that were investigated early on in the design process.

Faced with an odd shaped lot, the design team determined that there would be a long entrance drive into the center of the lot, with a circular drive/parking area reached just before the buildings and courtyard. One advantage of the long entrance drive, is the ability to have the courtyard area conveniently located near the circle drive and parking, yet far enough from the busy and noisy traffic of a main thoroughfare.

One concept rendering that came about in the middle of the process.

The circular drive provides a perfect sequence for a vehicle drop-off, but we realized that the center of this drive could also become a nice landscape focal point for people as they entered the site.

After navigating the circle drive, visitors then encounter the entrance gate and tower. Reinforcing the Tuscan theme, the tower provides a delightful “landmark” for the site, and makes a great entrance into the gated landscape.

One of the last concept sketches the team devised as we approached the final site design.

The layout of the buildings is predominately to the north and east sides of the property. This scenario provides a mostly southern and western exposure of the courtyard, which leads to an outdoor space that is rarely shaded in the cold months, fostering an exterior space that is sunny and easy for the snow to quickly melt. A formal water feature anchors the center of the courtyard design.

Due to the open and bright exposure in the courtyard, we proposed a series of raised garden beds where residents of the facility could indulge their green thumbs and get their hands in the dirt. If the sunny space gets too warm, there is a shade structure and several trees to provide protective seating spots to enjoy the outside air. And if residents or staff are in need of a simple stroll to clear their mind or get their blood flowing, there is a small network of interconnected walkways inside this gated courtyard that allows for that.

Digital 3-D rendering of the Landmark site.

The Landmark Assisted Living and Memory Care facility has turned out to be a great project that brings the pleasures of a gated courtyard and Tuscan style architecture together to create a wonderfully inviting and therapeutic outdoor experience for residents, visitors and staff members of the facility.

This is the official blog of Outdoor Design Group, Colorado Landscape Architects.  For more information about our business and our services, click here.

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Project Highlight: Gateway Village General Improvement District

The city of Denver uses various improvement districts to construct, improve, and maintain neighborhood and commercial areas. One such General Improvement District (GID) has been created for a section in the large Northeast Denver neighborhood of Montbello, and is called the Gateway General Improvement District (GID). We are happy to have been contracted by The Gateway GID in hopes of helping to revitalize the neighborhood by updating the current landscape and introducing more drought-tolerant, colorful plant varieties for areas around the neighborhood. These areas include street tree lawns, detention ponds, a large drainage channel, and the monument sign area. The nearby green space study, as seen below, analyzes the nearby park spaces, most of which are too far from most homes in the GID to be within walking distance. This posed a great opportunity for us to not only revitalize the outdated and rundown landscape around the neighborhood, but to help create community green spaces, by utilizing the barren and unused detention ponds.

 

 

The streetscapes throughout the neighborhood contain endless amounts of water-guzzling bluegrass, along with landscape beds overflowing, overgrown junipers and bare spots where other shrubs have died. Our design has these streetscapes being updated to replace the existing sod and desolate landscape beds with drought tolerant shrub varieties and rock mulch to reduce irrigation requirements while also providing a cohesive and interesting landscape year-round.

 

 

In the detention ponds around the neighborhood, our landscape designs aim to incorporate a more usable lawn space with pedestrian access, as well as add colorful, xeric varieties of shrubs and trees to the perimeter of the pond at street level to increase passerby interest and beautify the area. These ponds present a huge opportunity to provide nearby families with accessible parks. Two of the detention ponds are located directly across the street from two elementary schools in the neighborhood. These particular ponds presented us with a huge opportunity to not only turn these unused areas into park spaces, but educational learning landscapes as well.

 

We collaborated with Denver Public Schools to incorporate interesting educational elements and various ecosystems that will coincide with lesson plans made by teachers. Ecosystems include a wetland ecosystem where students can do water testing and observe the various birds and insects, as well as a dryland ecosystem featuring drought tolerant, native Colorado plant varieties. Other educational elements include a pollinator garden that will feature colorful shrubs and perennials attractive to bees and butterflies, demonstrating the importance of pollinators.

 

 

A boulder garden can also be found in the new educational landscape designs with an array of boulders showcasing Colorado’s diverse geology. To offer a more structured outdoor classroom, we have designed the detention pond slopes to incorporate an amphitheater with siloam stone slab seating. To top it off, children can follow a concrete pathway painted with the planets from our solar system, down into one of the amphitheaters.

 

 

With the Gateway Village General Improvement District being large in scope, we hope to reach a vast majority of the community at and positively impact them with all of these desired improvements.

This is the official blog of Outdoor Design Group, Colorado Landscape Architects. For more information about our business and our services, click here.

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