Archive for November, 2014

During my time at BASE thus far, I’ve been given some unique opportunities – whether it be helping to build a parklet organized as a corporate team-building exercise, building some burly benches, developing marketing materials, or creating some fun designs and renderings. However, one of the most interesting opportunities has been learning about pollinators.

Patricia and Andreas capturing a swarm back in April

Patricia and Andreas capturing a swarm back in April.

Patricia’s interest in and advocacy for bees (as well as other helpful pollinators such as butterflies, moths, or hummingbirds) has opened my eyes to many different issues of which I was not previously aware. Some of these include the disappearing honey bee populations, the importance of educating people about the benefits of pollinators, the widespread use of pesticides in agriculture and ornamental planting.


Patricia pointing out the bee larvae and checking for mite damage.

Many of these issues also affect our work as landscape architects. At BASE, we strive to incorporate plants that attract and allow pollinators to thrive. But as a discipline we can be doing more to specify plants that have been grown organically and free of pesticides.


Busy bees.

We’re lucky enough to have our very own living laboratory, the Algarden Urban Farm, only a few blocks from the studio where we can go to test out new ideas. Having this resource so close has meant walking over on lunch breaks or in the evenings to harvest fruits, vegetables, and herbs, do some weeding, establish new planting beds, or tend to the bees. Patricia has three hives of honey bees who live at the garden and help to pollinate it so we can all enjoy the wonderful produce. Prior to joining BASE, I had no knowledge of beekeeping, but I’ve been able to accompany Patricia to the garden to help out with and learn more about her bees. I’ve been able to don the bee suit, smoker in hand, and help capture a swarm, establish a new hive, introduce a new queen, and check for mites.


The bees feeding their larvae and working on the honey.

It’s been fun learning about the different types of bees and their role in the hive, how and when to harvest the honey, and how to establish a new hive.


The bees in their hive.

I never would have imagined all of these different experiences would be possible in a landscape architecture firm, but am learning that they are also inherently important to the field.

The Kinder Play Yard at the German International School of Silicon Valley in Mountain View is now complete!

This project had a quick turnaround – we began with the design in May and construction was completed in September. Whew!

Of the designated Kinder Play Yard area, half had to be  left open for the fire truck access so we turned it into a painted pollinator trike path. In the remaining space we incorporated a cushy artificial turf outdoor classroom space, a tipi, a play structure, a pirate ship, playful mushroom stumps, a sand pit with a water trough, raised vegetable planting beds, and planting for pollinators.



custom water trough

play structure with fun safety surface pattern

play structure with fun safety surface pattern



outdoor classroom

outdoor classroom being used for a game of tag


In the fire lane, we incorporated colorful painted pollinators, and flowers, as well as a dotted trike path, to break up the asphalt that we had to have for the fire truck and create a fun and engaging space for the children to enjoy.



stencils were used to add color to the expansive asphalt fire lane

Looks like these kindergarten and preschool aged kids are loving their new play space!

BASE is working with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) to give students greener schoolyards.

After voters passed a bond measure for green schoolyards, the SFUSD has been working with a handful of landscape architecture firms and schools each year to realize small landscape improvements. This year, BASE was chosen to design spaces for Aptos Middle School and Hoover Middle School.

The process began with a site walkthrough of the spaces slated for improvement and by meeting with our schoolyard greening committee at each school to determine their needs. The committees are made up of principals and teachers from each school and two project managers from SFUSD’s Green Schoolyard department. We’ve had a series of meetings over several months where we presented our design concepts, taking the committee’s feedback into account each time. We’ve had some great meetings with a lot of wonderful input from each of the committees helping us to refine the design to meet the needs of the students, teachers, and staff. Both schools were looking to increase planting areas, shade, and provide seating for students to enjoy during lunch and recess.

It’s been an interesting process working within the unknown costs of San Francisco’s booming construction market at the moment.

We will submit the completed construction document set for review by SFUSD at the beginning of December. The project will then go to bid in late February or early March and construction will be completed this summer.

At Aptos Middle School, the project site is a bleak asphalt courtyard used during lunch and recess. The new plan will accommodate seating for upwards of 100 students with raised planters and log seating features. The existing volleyball court will remain and existing picnic tables will be relocated. The asphalt will be painted to add some playful colors to liven up the space.

existing conditions of the project site at Aptos

Existing conditions of the project site at Aptos Middle School.

Anticipated new courtyard at Aptos.

Anticipated new courtyard at Aptos.

Concept Plan for Aptos.

Concept Plan for Aptos.


At Herbert Hoover Middle School, the project site is a narrow strip between an expanse of asphalt paving and a towering concrete retaining wall. The new space will incorporate seating for more than 100 students, native planting areas, and vegetable beds. Fun red logs are used as seating features. The design also incorporates an area of the concrete wall to be used as a ball wall by the PE department.

existing conditions of the project site at  Herbert Hoover Middle School

Existing conditions of the project site at Herbert Hoover Middle School.

Hoover Concept Design

The anticipated new space for Hoover students.

Hoover Concept Design Plan

Concept Plan for Hoover.


We’re looking forward to providing greener schoolyards for students in the Fall of 2015!

We are excited to share that the Roving Ranger has been featured in WLA Magazine!

The Roving Ranger was chosen as one of 18 projects featured in the 16th edition of WLA Magazine, an online magazine by World Landscape Architecture. This issue showcases varied landscape architecture works from around the world. Check out the pages on the Roving Ranger below and the full issue of WLA16 here.