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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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