Southside Elementary School Butterfly and Bird Habitat


What began as an ASLA member presenting a unit on butterfly gardens to students at Southside Elementary School has become a much larger project. For the last four years, Michael Gilkey, Inc. has been integrally involved in establishing an edible garden, a bird and butterfly garden, and even leading kindergarten classes in the creation of their own shoebox butterfly gardens. For his last project, each child chose one verbena, one coral honeysuckle and one white guara, all generously donated by Mariposa Nursery. The children learned about the life cycle of the butterfly, Florida’s soils, the purpose of mulch, a bit of design, and plant care.


When approached by the Southside Elementary garden team about the dire need for a front school façade makeover, Gilkey volunteered his time and design to create a butterfly and bird habitat garden that would welcome students and parents into the historic building. The garden was planted in early 2013.


With the Southside Elementary butterfly and bird habitat garden ready to welcome winged visitors, it was time to designate the space a Certified Wildlife Habitat. The National Wildlife Federation recognizes spaces that provide food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise their young.


This newly hatched monarch butterfly was the first full time resident of the Southside Elementary butterfly and bird garden, a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat.


Michael A. Gilkey, Inc.’s continuing donation of time, design, materials and installation services for gardens and habitats has established the firm as Business Partners of Southside Elementary School for four consecutive years.

*Photos/story via Michael A. Gilkey, Inc., member submission from Sarasota, Florida.

PHOTO/VIDEO UPDATE: A New Sensory Garden for Outside the Box


Earlier last year, the Indiana Chapter of ASLA (INASLA) embarked on a partnership to design and install a sensory garden for a local non-profit, Outside the Box (OTB). Located on the north-side of Indianapolis, OTB is a provider of day, employment, and art services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. OTB views the 200 participants as capable individuals who can enrich their own lives by contributing to their community.


OTB reached out to an ASLA member to solicit designs of a sensory garden. Simultaneously, the Indiana Chapter was exploring ways to engage the Year of Public Service initiative. And so began the partnership to design and install a new sensory garden at OTB’s headquarters. INASLA’s Public Service Committee visited OTB to observe a typical day while meeting staff and participants. Early on in the process it was agreed the best plan of action would include hosting a design charette to develop end-user consensus. The end result can be seen in the picture above, after many months of designing, planning and building.


At the ASLA Indiana Annual Meeting in September, members recognized the project and presented Outside the Box with funds to go toward maintenance of the new, beautiful garden. What started as a noble charge for public good in Indiana resulted in a new relationship with the community. This group—who did not know what landscape architects did before this—now celebrates our profession along with the chapter and has become something ASLA Indiana can continually be proud to continue serving.

Great Shasta Rail Trail Project

In February 2013, twenty professionals and volunteers from the American Society of Landscape Architects, the National Park Service, and the Great Shasta Rail Trail Core Team met in Sacramento, CA for a day-long design workshop.


The vision for the project is to develop an 80-mile scenic multi-use trail along an existing rail bed between the towns of McCloud and Burney, near Mt. Shasta, California. The workshop focused on developing solutions for the project’s design challenges and generating visuals which communicate these ideas to the public.


The workshop capitalized on background and planning work done by the project Core Team and the creativity, collaboration and enthusiasm of the workshop participants. Community service work done through the existing partnership between ASLA and NPS is being highlighted during ASLA’s Year of Public Service.


For more information, please visit the links below:

*Video and text c/o ASLA, Sierra Chapter. Video produced by wickFILMS. Images c/o National Park Service.

Beacon Hill Street Stories Video Update

The Beacon Hill Street Stories project is back in action!

As you may remember from our previous blog post, ASLA, the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program, and Seattle partners merged storytelling, technology and community culture to creatively engage youth in exploring what makes a walkable neighborhood. Feet First, the Washington Chapter of ASLA, and Seattle Parks & Recreation teamed up to work in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood on a 5-week hands-on project where youth produced their own videos of what it felt like to move through their community on foot.

Here is a sampling of videos produced by students:

Take a look at the rest of the student-produced videos here.

*Videographer for Beacon Hill Street Stories video:

Preliminary Arboretum Conceptual Planning in Milwaukee

*Photos and story from Landscapes of Place, LLC.

The Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee asked for our pro bono services to develop conceptual plans for submittal to the Milwaukee Rotary for their potential support of a 40-acre native plants Arboretum. Beginning in the spring of 2009 through spring of 2010, we developed and articulated project plans, working with the land donor, the Urban Ecology Center staff and project team.


Conceptual sketch in early discussions with land donor and project team (sketch: Nancy Aten)

The site has all the urban complexities: an industrial land use history, much of it hidden below ground; steep slopes and also a commitment to universal accessibility; a flashy urban river; landowner neighbors with different perspectives; multiple property agreements (including access easements from the sewerage district for large equipment to reach the river down a steep slope); highly compacted soils and altered hydrology. Our work was to blend the vision of the land donor with the goals of the Urban Ecology Center and their community, and produce a plan to inspire the sponsorship of Milwaukee Rotary and enable the project development. The conceptual plan needed to be persuasive in resolving a very constrained grading plan, balancing cut and fill, providing universl access trails, completing trail connections, designing land restoration and habitat zones – and also inspire with the scope and scale of the endeavor.


Map of proposed site, parcel boundaries, layered Sanborn maps showing industrial history — for discussion sessions with land donor and project team (Landscapes of Place)

Our conceptual plan helped secure the Rotary’s visionary commitment. This enabled the subsequent three-and-a-half years of work by the Center leading to the grand opening of the Rotary Centennial Arboretum in September 2013.


Conceptual site plan detail with circulation, program elements and grading plan (Landscapes of Place)

Conservation Master Plan for the Bay Shore Blufflands State Natural Area

Bay Shore Blufflands is a 4200 acre Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources-Designated State Natural Area of significant note for its grand scenery, unusual geology, rare plant and animal species. Containing more than seven miles of the Niagara Escarpment, the Bay Shore Blufflands is an ecologically complex site with a diversity of plant communities above and below the escarpment and a series of seeps, springs and wetlands at the base of the talus slopes which feed small streams that enter Green Bay.


Aerial view of the Bay Shore Blufflands with the wooded cliff of the Niagara Escarpment

The 4200 acres is also a complex mix of land use, ownership, and protection.  There are three  Preserves within the SNA that are disconnected in both perception and in habitat protection.  Preliminary demographic studies show that about 70 private landowners of parcels greater than 8 acres hold about 3/4 of the lands, representing a significant community conservation opportunity.


Typical community workday at the Bay Shore Blufflands, stakeholders connecting with each other and the land (photo: Nancy Aten)

This project will create a Conservation Master Plan at the Bay Shore Blufflands for use by the stakeholder community.  The Conservation Master Plan will provide a sufficiently complete ecological understanding of this project area, a stakeholder vision of protected lands and habitat connections, and goals translated into a road map of described and scoped projects that will build on a significant history of community engagement.


A public boardwalk tour of a hardwood swamp at the Bay Shore Blufflands imprints a memorable connection to the landscape (photo: Eric Fowle)

Core stakeholders are Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (Grantor), Door County Land Trust (Grantee) and Landscapes of Place (Project Coordinator). Landscapes of Place staff are providing 100% pro bono services for duration of the project including; grant writing, program management, stakeholder coordination and plan development.   These donated services provide matching funds required by the grant.  The grant funds are being used to engage consulting ecologist, hydrologist and subject matter experts. 

To date, this project has racked up over 1500 hours of restoration field work that started before and carried through 2013. Check out their photo album here.

Entryway Design Charrette in Redmond, Oregon

The High Desert Section – Oregon Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), as part of the 2013 ASLA Year of Public Service, led the City of Redmond staff through a design charrette at Redmond City Hall to generate design ideas for an important entryway.

deb best (1024x814)

The design charrette was organized by Robin Gyorgyfalvy, Scenic Byways Program Leader for the Deschutes National Forest and Scott Woodford, Associate Planner for the City of Redmond. Participants included Scott and City of Redmond staff; Heather Richards, Director of Community Development, James Lewis, Planning Manager, and Mike Caccavano, City Engineer, and members of the Redmond Development Commission (RDC) Ed Fitch, Katie Hammer, and Alice Galloway.  Leading the design charrette were Debbie Goodwin of Heart Springs Landscape Design and Nursery, David Olsen of Harper Houf Peterson Righellis, and Eileen Obermiller of Dappled Earth.  This is the fourth in a series of community design charrettes led by the High Desert Section – Oregon Chapter, ASLA as part of a national campaign to create public awareness for landscape architects throughout Oregon communities.

Redmond charrette 2 (1024x709)

The group rolled up their sleeves and came up with two different concepts for the interchange and a few ideas for the median projects.

Concept #1:

2010-01-01 00.00.00-246 Tracing concept 2 (1024x768) - Copy

Concept #2:

2010-01-01 00.00.00-248  Tracing concept 1 (1024x670) - Copy

Median Ideas for U.S. 97:

2010-01-01 00.00.00-249 Tracing median concepts (1024x768) - Copy

The High Desert Section of Oregon ASLA will be finalizing the gateway concepts and median ideas to give the City of Redmond and ODOT some powerful presentation tools.

*Story and images c/o ASLA Oregon.

International Children’s Park Renovation

Story c/o University of Washington & Catherine O’Donnell.

Playing around has led to redesign of the International Childrens Park in downtown Seattle.

Jeff Hou, chairman of the Department of Landscape Architecture, and 18 of his students collaborated with several citizen groups on the new park, which was dedicated March 3.

fig2Located on the northeast corner of Seventh Avenue and South Lane streets in the Chinatown-International District, the park is small – about one-fifth of an acre — but in a key spot.

Vegetation had grown up around the periphery of the 30-year-old park, obscuring views and raising concerns about safety. There were few amenities for adults who bring kids to the park, and no accommodations for people with disabilities. A rock mound posed a hazard, and during the winter, the grass was often soggy.

Cultural and language differences were also part of the landscape, making decisions about the park complicated.

fig9But renewal made sense because the neighborhood has seen increasing residential and commercial development, leading to more active community places such as the Wing Luke Asian Museum and a branch of the Seattle Public Library.

To involve stakeholders young and old, Hous group, along with the city and several neighborhood groups, held an intergenerational design workshop in 2007.

“I think the most difficult challenge was to incorporate as much of the feedback we got from the community while still allowing the park to have a clear and concise design,” said student Patrick Keegan.

fig6Engaging multiple generations of users was the most interesting part of the redesign, said Joyce Pisnanont, manager of IDEA Space, which promotes and develops the Chinatown­-International District. Desires were consistent across age groups, she said, and the adults “really wanted to ensure that the park was fun for kids to play in.”

The final design by landscape architect Karen Kiest includes an expanded childrens area with a play structure big enough for a dozen kids, a dragon sculpture restored by artist Gerard Tsutakawa, a stainless steel pagoda with seats for grown-ups and a three-level rockery that serves as both gathering space and a climbing area.

Public art by Stuart Nakamira includes a brushed stainless steel top the size of a typical 4-year-old.

fig4In a Lane Street corner, pink viburnum are budding, surrounded by circles of black mondo grass.

The total cost of the project was $750,000 provided by the Parks and Green Spaces Levy, Neighborhood Matching Funds, King County and private donors. According to Hou, the Childrens Park is also the first park in the International District to receive extensive community involvement in its design.

The group effort worked so well, Hou said, that its led to other things such as a community design center, designs for an expanded Hing Hay Park nearby and land to be acquired in the Little Saigon neighborhood for a new park.

“The work goes on,” said Hou. “We dont just end up with a park but also more community infrastructure and more social capital.”

*Photos and information provided by Jeffrey Hou, PhD, ASLA.

Solutions Workshop for a Walkable Domenech Avenue

The Collaborative of Institute of Landscape Architects of Puerto Rico (IAPPR-CAAPPR), AARP, the Hato Rey West Coalition and En la grama… recently held its first charrette for a walkable Domenech.


This multidisciplinary design workshop aimed to collect ideas, intentions and strategies, culminating in an implementable plan that identifies priorities for municipal street Domenech to convert the streetscape infrastructure that meets the basic needs of mobility for users same.


Domenech Avenue, as happens in many avenues in PR, was a residential street that became commercial due to its easy access and strategic location. This change in use brings new dynamics of mobility that should be able to coexist effectively. These new requirements range from accessible and safe sidewalks for walkers, bicycle flow areas, parking areas, vegetation strips and so on.


The ideas and intentions collected during this activity will be used by the students of the Polytechnic University- Landscape Architecture School and the students of PUCPR Architecture School to develop a guide for the renovation of the Domenech Avenue.


Member submission from Puerto Rico.