When working on community-based landscape beautification projects with limited budgets, we often help to procure materials and oversee plant placement. Irrigation can be a costly challenge and while this may be mitigated through smart design, including the use of drought-tolerant plants and other materials, street trees can be difficult to establish without watering systems. Hence our Studio One Eleven experiment with Treegator slow release watering bags. It takes five minutes to install the bag around the tree trunk and about a minute to fill with water. So give an urban tree a drink, already! The bag just needs to be refilled once a week and the entire neighborhood can pitch in if needed (take note, kids)! This does involve some participation but we think that this type of temporary irrigation may prove an effective and inexpensive way to help support the growth of new trees in an urban environment. We’ll keep you posted.
We were chatting with the inimitable critic, author and urban planner Sam Hall Kaplan recently about the great value of continuum in place making. My thoughts from that point forward were stuck on an archway in Downey. Over the years, Studio One Eleven has advised numerous cities throughout the region on architectural and urban design and, at the moment, we happen to be working on the Downey Civic Center Master Plan.
Creating a physical vision for any city, town or neighborhood allows us to take a closer look at its identity and how we might use the underlying character and values of a community to establish a meaningful and vibrant sense of place. In Downey, we lucked upon an archway to articulate a unique narrative for the city. As you explore our gallery below, notice how the Downey Archway allows us to connect (as good arches do), reinforce and enhance the civic center’s historical context with its evolving identity—reflected through place.
A not-so-uncommon conversation between neighbors about the lack of pedestrian safety on their street escalated into an urban intervention that would reshape and green one of the busiest streets of their Long Beach, CA neighborhood. On Saturday, April 13, those neighbors: Studio One Eleven’s Michael Bohn and Long Beach Fire Chief Mike DuRee, together with over 200 Long Beach volunteers and Belmont Heights residents, completed a six-year grassroots effort to calm traffic and promote pedestrian activity across Broadway through new landscaped medians. The medians transferred one-third of an acre of asphalt into permeable landscape, reducing storm water run-off, to feature 6,600 plants such as agave, kangaroo paw, limonium and blue senecio over (almost) one-quarter mile. All in time for Earth Day.
To learn more about this project, click the links below:
Long Beach Press Telegram: Belmont Heights median project nears completion
LA Streetsblog: Belmont Heights Medians Are Complete with Slower Traffic and More Pedestrians
We love new, unique opportunities. Recently, we were invited to design a display garden representing the city of Long Beach (a sister city to Qingdao) for the 2014 Qingdao International Horticultural Exposition (QIHE). The Expo, which is expected to attract 12 million visitors, will be located on 595 acres (241 hectares) in Baiguo Mountain Forest Park located on the coast of the Yellow Sea, at the Southern end of Shandong Peninsula, China. With numerous garden theme and experience areas, the Long Beach garden will occupy 43 acres within the International Garden.
Our design concept, “Outdoor Living in a Green Environment,” was recently approved by the QIHE Executive Committee. It will exhibit the unique relationship between landscape and al fresco outdoor living in Southern California. The mild Southern California climate allows us the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors nearly year-round, which influences how we live and design our houses. Thus, our display space will be divided into five zones each one representing a significant period of time in Long Beach that showcases the ‘outdoor room’. The zones will emulate the relationship between the environment and the use of garden space through planting design (native and non-native), shelter and open spaces for gathering.
Construction begins this autumn and is expected to be finished by October 2013 to allow QIHE to initiate trial operations of all gardens for the Expo’s opening in April 2014.
After more than 6 years of planning, the landscape improvements on Broadway between Nieto Ave. and Park Ave. in Long Beach are almost complete. Conceptualized by Studio One Eleven’s own Michael Bohn and David Sabunas, the improvements include landscaped medians that, aside from beautifying the street, reducing storm water runoff, and increasing property values, aim to correct the rampant speeding problem on the wider-than-normal neighborhood street. The many pedestrians around Lowell Elementary School and St. Bartholomew Catholic Church have been given more crosswalks and “areas of refuge”, and speeding cars are now encouraged to slow down due to narrower lanes. These improvements have already made the street a much safer and more pleasant place – a crossing guard even commented that she felt noticeably safer the very first day!