All posts by Natalie Martell

The Dolores Street Pollinator Boulevard is officially underway!

Come join us and help build pollinator habitat!

We’ll be laying down sheet mulch to rid the median of weeds and any lingering grass seed while creating nutrient rich soil. The sheet mulch will work its magic for about 6 months before we host another community volunteer day to add the new plants.

PollinatorParkFlyer

*Dolores Street Pollinator Blvd is part of Street Parks, a land stewardship program co-managed by Public Works and Parks Alliance that works with community members to convert City-owned parcels into green open space, verdant gardens, wildlife habitat, neighborhood gathering spaces, and more.

Summer is here! And for many, that means tons of fun, sun, and relaxation. Summer is an exciting time here at BASE, too. It’s the time for CONSTRUCTION. While kids are off having their summer fun, their schools are often receiving improvements. This summer, we have three different school improvement projects underway:

Aptos Middle School

This project is part of the San Francisco Unified School District’s (SFUD) Schoolyard Greening Program. Thus far, existing asphalt has been selectively cut to make way for planter boxes which will double as seating elements. A mock-up of the planter boxes has been complete. Eucalyptus logs are on site and will soon be stripped of their bark, stained, and secured to act as additional seating. Orange spray paint lines depict the outlines for what will become a painted asphalt pattern. We are anticipating project completion in early August – just in time for the beginning of the Fall semester.

Aptos Middle School - Planter Mockup

Aptos Middle School - Cut Asphalt

Aptos Middle School - Logs

Herbert Hoover Middle School

This an another space being transformed as part of the SFUSD’s Schoolyard Greening Program. Base aggregate has been laid to receive unit pavers in what will become an outdoor classroom space. Planting areas have been laid out and will soon be constructed from beautiful 12×12″ redwood lumber. Irrigation and hose bibs have gone in. We just reviewed one of the log mock-ups and can’t wait to see the rest of them in place.

Hoover Middle School - Planter Layout

Hoover Middle School - Log Placement

Hoover Middle School - Logs

Bullis Elementary School

This summer at Gardner Bullis Elementary School in Los Altos Hills, CA, BASE added a new gathering space centered around a large Oak shade tree where students can lounge and socialize on wood benches, basalt column benches, giant pebbles, and cushy synthetic turf. Near the school drop-off area, we added a new decomposed granite path and a series of benches for parents to wait for their children after school. Throughout the campus we added lots of new drought tolerant and low water use planting.

We just did our final walk-through earlier this week, so everything is ready to go when students return to campus this Fall.

Bullis Elementary - Shade Tree

 

Bullis Elementary - Front

Bullis Elementary - Bench Detail

 

Check out the improvements we made to Bullis Elementary last summer. The planting is looking great after a year of growth:

Bullis Elementary - planting

 

 

ASLA-NCC has announced their 2015 Awards Recipients.

We are excited to announce that BASE has received an Honor Award in the Research, Planning, Analysis, and Communication Category for our work on the El Monte Urban Agriculture Initiative and a Merit Award in the Parks, Recreation, Trails, and Open Space Category for our work on the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County!

Congratulations to all who were recognized!

El Monte Urban Agriculture Initiative

El Monte

 

NCC-ASLA - Merit Award - El Monte - website

 

Children’s Museum of Sonoma County

CMOSCNCC-ASLA - Honor Award - CMOSC - website

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_0839

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.

IMG_0840

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.

IMG_0838

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.

FullSizeRender

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.

 

IMG_5865

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.

 

IMG_1478

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.

BASE_WLA16_LR-1BASE_WLA16_LR-2BASE_WLA16_LR-3BASE_WLA16_LR-4BASE_WLA16_LR-5

The landscape at Casa Blanca, a residential project we’ve been working on in the Oakland Hills, is really beginning to take shape. We were recently on site to oversee the concrete work. Wooden and rebar forms had been complete earlier in the week and the concrete pour began in the early morning while it was still cool and the fog had not yet lifted. It was exciting to see the different concrete colors, finishes, and textures going in. The concrete guys started off with the natural colored concrete steps leading to the house then moved on to the dark, graphite colored concrete in the backyard.

IMG_0644

pouring the front stairs

 

IMG_0658

graphite colored concrete going in

We were really excited to see the guys start with the sparkle concrete. The sparkle finish is achieved by embedding silica carbide once the concrete has been poured and smoothed. After a light sandblasting once the concrete has set, the sparkle effect is visible in sunlight and under night lights. By incorporating alternating bands of  sparkle concrete and regular sandblasted graphite colored concrete, along with an interesting sawcut joint pattern, what would have been a typical driveway is transformed into a plaza-like space for hosting gatherings and parties.

IMG_0666

adding the sparkle!

IMG_0667

Andreas excited to help apply the sparkle

IMG_0680

finishing it up

Check back again soon to see how the construction continues to progress! The planting, fire pit, raised planting beds, and recycled concrete gabion walls will be going in soon.

 

 

 

The International Garden Festival, hosted by the Domaine de Chaumont-Sur-Loire, is an exposition of 25 gardens which takes place each year from April through November. In order to determine the designers of the gardens, the Domaine holds a juried competition. This year, the theme of the competition was the 7 Deadly Sins and each competitor or team created a garden design or art installation submission in response to the theme.

Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Domain de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Stables at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Stables at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

06

Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, overlooking the Loire River Valley

View of the Chateau and village across the Loire River

View of the Chateau and village across the Loire River

My Master’s project advisor and professor at Kansas State University, Jessica Canfield, entered a personal submission to the Garden Festival competition last fall. After the jury narrowed their selections and conducted brief interviews, Jessica learned her submission, Green Without Greed, was selected as one of the gardens to be built and shown in the Festival. Each entrant is responsible for determining who will construct the garden and how it will all come together. Jessica then began tracking down all the necessary building materials and gathering a construction crew. I joined the construction crew at the beginning of the year and in mid-March we set off on a fantastic adventure.

We spent two weeks at the Domaine in order to construct Jessica’s garden. Accommodations and food were provided on site and only a short walk from the Green Without Greed plot. Jessica’s design challenges and mocks the typical American lawn, which uses many precious resources to achieve the perfect shade of green. Two tones of artificial turf create a “quilt,” which serves as the “lawn,” while a gazing dome acts as a substitute for a water feature and berms serve as a play and seating feature.

 

Green Without Greed - completed garden

Green Without Greed – completed garden

Turf "Quilt"

Turf “Quilt”

 

One of the most interesting aspects of the whole experience was seeing all the other plots in various phases of construction. Some of the gardens were designed and built by large landscape architecture firms with dedicated professional construction crews, while others were individual artists, architects, or landscape architects on their own or with small crews, and some were even student led teams.

 

one of the completed gardens

one of the completed gardens

one of the completed gardens

one of the completed gardens

one of the completed gardens

one of the completed gardens

one of the completed gardens

one of the completed gardens

one of the completed gardens

one of the completed gardens

one of the gardens under construction

one of the gardens under construction

garden9

one of the gardens under construction

one of the gardens under construction

one of the gardens under construction

 

We also enjoyed touring the interior of the Chateau and learning of its history, as well as exploring the Domaine grounds which feature many different gardens and art installations. Additionally, we were able to do a brief tour of landscape architecture sites in Paris at both the beginning and end of our incredible journey.

Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire

interesting detail along the Chateau tour

interesting detail along the Chateau tour

gabion wall at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

gabion wall at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

permanent installation at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

permanent installation at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

permanent installation at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

permanent installation at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

along the Seine River, Paris

along the Seine River, Paris

Parc de Bercy, Paris

Parc de Bercy, Paris

la Coulée Verte, Paris

la Coulée Verte, Paris

la Centre Pompidou, Paris

la Centre Pompidou, Paris

Parc de la Villette, Paris

Parc de la Villette, Paris

Parc de la Villette, Paris

Parc de la Villette, Paris

Parc de la Villette, Paris

Parc de la Villette, Paris

interesting fence at Parc de la Villette, Paris

interesting fence at Parc de la Villette, Paris

Parisian alley

a Parisian alley

You can read more about the Green Without Greed construction process and crew through Jessica’s blog:

http://greenwithoutgreed.blogspot.com

For more information about the Domaine de Chaumont-Sur-Loire International Garden Festival:

http://www.domaine-chaumont.fr/en_festival_festival?cat=3&expandable=0