METROPOLITAN DESIGN CENTER
CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL TRANSFORMING THE CHARACTER OF PLACE
SITE ANALYSIS AND FIELD WORK INTRODUCTION
In response to their dissatisfaction with the landscape surrounding the Central High School entrance, a group composed of parents, teachers, and administrators approached the Metropolitan Design Center to compile research and propose design alternatives. The Design Center conducted field survey work
over the course of several days, observing site conditions, the flow of surface water, student behavior and movement patterns throughout the day. From these observations the MDC composed a series of design options which were then displayed in the school for commentary. Incorporating a survey sent to students, teachers, and neighbors, the MDC
provided a diversity of design options to depict the ways in which the school could be made to be more welcoming, sustainable, and attractive.
SITE 1 Under used
12 Under used Lexington Ave
space for vegetation
space for gathering
11 Entry is
surrounded by stark concrete walls
10 Stairs contribute
to imposing entry
surface creates sense of desolation when unoccupied
9 Worn path is eroded and lacks form
surfaces lead to stormwater runoff
8 Edges create
confusion as to how to move through space
5 Berm is muddy in spring and awkward to occupy
7 From this
corner the building appears fortress-like and unwelcoming
6 Parking lot edge is open and exposed
Marshall Ave 0 10
Under used space for vegetation
Imposing vertical facade
Undifferentiated, desolate surface
Exposed parking lot edge
4 Impervious surface
12 Under used gathering space
TOPOGRAPHY AND SURFACE DRAINAGE
Water covers plaza and sidewalks as it flows toward the street.
SURFACE WATER FLOW
To street drain
Surface storm water moves across the impervious surfaces of the site, eroding soil, flooding the courtyard, and picking up pollutants before it flows into street drains connected
to the cityâ€™s stormwater system. Water flows diagonally across the plaza in front of the school, forms runnels along sidewalks, and creates muddy surfaces.
Water flowing across plaza toward street drain.
Runnels erode soil, carrying it into the street.
Drain collects water from impervious parking lot.
STUDENT USE OF SPACE MOVEMENT PATTERNS
Marshall Ave Lingering/Waiting during day
Beginning and end of day entrances
Lingering after school Daytime activity Beginning and end of day activity
For three days in February the Metropolitan Design Center conducted fieldwork at the school, observing the movement and activity patterns throughout the day. The focus of observation was on the southern side of the building where there are four entrances. All entrances were used during the morning and afternoon rush, and one entrance at the top of the stairs was used throughout the day. The others appeared to be locked after 7:30am. While students came and went during the day in small numbers, they did not gather but would instead move from point to point, or wait briefly to be picked up. The highest amount of activity was between 7am and 7:30am, and again between 2pm and 2:15pm. Students arrived at school and left school at these times, and at the end of the day congregated in large groups in the open space in front of the school. The studentsâ€™ movement patterns did not necessarily follow paved paths, but would cut across open spaces. In some cases the vegetation appeared to be completely worn away due to these movement patterns. There was not a sense of engagement with the landscape around the school beyond the gathering that took place at the end of the day. 04
PERIOD 4 PERIOD 4
Pattern of activity throughout the school day, as observed February 7-9, 2012.
Gathering and movement at the end of the school day.
12pm PERIOD 4 LUNCH
1pm PERIOD 5 PERIOD 5 LUNCH
2pm PERIOD 6 PERIOD 6 PERIOD 6
AFTERNOON FEBRUARY 7th, 2012
2:08 pm 05
DESIGN OPPORTUNITIES PLAZA
Though open space is needed for gathering, the entry plaza on the south side of the school can be enhanced with trees, seating, and raised planters.
Olin, Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park, NYC
Kim, Moylan School Playground, Hartford
Olin, Comcast Center, Philadelphia
Noborisaka, Osaka City University Media Center, Japan
Gross Max, Whiteinch Cross, UK
Buro Lubbers, Mathildeplein, Netherlands
Chyutin Architects, BGU University Square, Israel
Gustafson, Museum of Natural History, NYC
Peter Walker, Pixar Studios, Emeryville
West 8, Madrid Rio, Spain
Rehwaldt, Sudliche Lohmuhleninsel, Berlin
Van Valkenburgh. Allegheny Riverfront Park, Pittsburgh
Van Valkenburgh. Allegheny Riverfront Park, Pittsburgh
Edges can provide seating as well as be a retaining wall, or a border can be planted to define and soften the space.
Olin, Gap Headquarters, San Francisco
TEXTURE AND PATTERN
Japanese Garden, Bloedel Reserve, Brainbridge Island
Texas garden, flickr
James Corner Field Operations, High Line, NYC
Square pavers in grass, flickr
Peter Walker, Library Walk, San Diego
1:1 Landskab, Courtyard in Classensgade, Denmark
Green screen over parking structure, Rockville
Vine with trellis system attached to building, flickr
Olin, Church of Latter Day Saints, Salt Lake City
Walker, Mutual Life Plaza, Des Moines
Stromp approach, Smedsvig Landskapsarkitekter, FlĂ¸itrappene, Bergen
Lau & Chun Man Architects, Hua Wei Technologies, Shenzhen
Textured paving and permeable pavers differentiate space as well as allow water to infiltrate into the soil.
Olin, Westlake Park, Seattle
WALLS AND STAIRS
Vines add color and life to blank walls, either attached to a trellis system or clinging directly to walls. Glass blocks, color variation, and planted terraces bring life to the entry steps.
Gustafson, Costa Mesa Bridge and Garden, California
Sculptural lighting tubes, flickr
Sculptural lighting posts, flickr
Rehwaldt Landschaftsarchitekten, Berlin
Kongijan Yu, The Red Ribbon-Tanghe River Park, Quinhuangdao
Gustafson, Guthrie Nichol, Lurie Garden, Chicago
Wall lighting, flickr
Steps up hill, flickr
Paved steps up hill, flickr
Coarse rock path, flickr
Cut stone path, flickr
Mown path through tall grasses, flickr
Stone steps up hill, MDC
Lighting enhances space as well as making it usable during evening hours. Lights can be sculptural, integrated into benches and trees, or flush with the ground.
Ground lighting, flickr
Terraced steps and a change of material will make this well-worn path more usable and compelling.
Stone path, flickr
INSTALLING PERMEABLE PAVING IN PARKING AREAS
Brick pavers, flickr
Installing interlocking pavers, Portland
Grass pavers, flickr
Grass pavers in parking lot, flickr
Permeable interlocking pavers, EcoFriend
Permeable interlocking pavers, Sutherland Landscape Center
Permeable interlocking pavers in parking lot, NRCS
Porous colored concete, flickr
Porous asphalt and traditional asphalt surfaces, NRCS
Porous asphalt installation, NRCS
Permeable materials and plantings, Nashville
Parking lot, Heifer International, Little Rock
Corner detail of stormwater collection, flickr
Permeable pavers and curb cuts, Morton Arboretum, Illinois
Colorful permeable pavers in parking lot, Brighton, Colorado
Parking stalls with permeable pavers, Pavestone pavers
Instead of water flowing off of impermeable surfaces and directly into water bodies, interlocking pavers and grass pavers filter and infiltrate water directly where it falls.
PERENNIAL VINES PERENNIAL VINES THAT GROW WITHOUT A TRELLIS Boston Ivy Parthenocissus tricuspidata • 10’/year up to 50’ • Climbs by tendrils that adhere to wood or masonry surfaces • Takes a couple years to become established, then grows vigorously • Leaves 3-lobed and dark green, turning bright red in fall • Full sun to deep shade
Virginia Creeper or Woodbine Parthenocissus quinquefolia • 10’/year up to 50’ • Tendrils and discs • Turns bright red in fall with small blue berry clusters • Full sun to deep shade • Can become aggressive
Parthenocissus quinquefolia ‘Englemannii’ • Tendrils and discs • Compound leaf of five leaflets, similar to woodbine but the leaflets are smaller • Bright red fall color • Can become aggressive
PERENNIAL VINES THAT NEED A TRELLIS Virgin’s Bower Clematis virginiana • 8-12’/year • Leaf petioles act like tendrils that often wrap around other plants • Showy vine, does best where it does not get too hot • Full sun to part shade
American Bittersweet Celastrus scandens • 10’/year to 30’+ • Climbs by twining • Fruits are bright orange and last into winter • Several plants should be planted to ensure fruiting since each Bittersweet plant is single sex • Sun to part shade
FRAGRANT PLANTS TREES Crabapple
Malus ‘Adams,’ ‘Flame,’ ‘Pink Spires,’ ‘Sparkler,’ ‘Spring Snow’ • H 10+ W 8+ • Many cultivars available • Blooms in the spring, many varieties have fruit that lasts from 4-6 months
Japanese Tree Lilac Syringa reticulata • H 15+ W 12+ • Flowers appear in June, tree blooms heavily every other year • Texture and color of dark, cherry-like bark add winter interest
Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn Crataegus crusgali var. inermis • H 15+ W 20+ • Adapted to well-drained soils and full sun • White flowers and dark red fruit through winter • Horizontal growth habit
SHRUBS Fragrant sumac Rhus aromatica • H 2-6’ • Sun or part-shade • Flower color is yellow • Crushed leaves are aromatic
Magnolia ‘Stellata,’ ‘Merrill,’ or ‘Leonard Messel’ • H 15-20’ • Grows best in full sun • Adaptable to a variety of soil types but needs adequate moisture
Syringa vulgaris • H 4-15’ • Several hundred varieties of lilacs available • Need full sun to produce abundant blooms • Tolerant of wide range of soil conditions
“The presence of more trees and shrubs in the campus landscape has been connected with higher test scores, graduation rates, and percentages of students planning to attend a four year college, and lower occurrences of problem behaviors.” Rodney H. Matsuoka, PhD
High School Landscapes and Student Performance, 2008
PROPOSING DESIGN OPTIONS: CHANGING THE PERCEPTION OF SPACE DESIGN INTENTION The landscape surrounding Central High School consists primarily of turf grass and concrete surfaces with few places to sit. The expansive open spaces on the south side of the building expose people to intense sun and winter winds, while stormwater runoff contributes to soil erosion. Though students use the main plaza in the front of the building as a gathering place at the end of the day, it is not a welcoming environment due to lack of seating, shade, and vegetation. 012
The Metropolitan Design Center’s intent was to soften the environment, create welcoming and usable spaces, decrease stormwater runoff, and introduce fragrant native plants. The MDC proposed that the main entries should be enhanced with engaging paving patterns, lighting, plants, seating, and art walls that highlight school identity. Vines should be planted on the walls to decrease heat gain and soften spaces, flowering trees line the street, and seating alcoves provide places to
gather. A low wall and indented plaza along the street provide students with a place to wait or to gather with friends, while turf strips and pavers help to cool the environment. On the east side of the site native prairie plants create habitat for insects and birds, as well as provide opportunities for outdoor learning. Permeable paving in the parking lot eliminates stormwater runoff, with a planted biofiltration basin lining the southern edge to filter and treat stormwater.
POTENTIAL MODIFICATIONS PROPOSED INTERVENTIONS • Plazas break up visual space and provide seating and shade • Turf pavers in main plaza bring vegetation to paved space and reduce reflectivity of paving • Low walls and benches provide additional seating • Permeable pavers increase infiltration • Rain gardens collect and filter stormwater • Trees add fragrance, color, and shade as well as screen building from the street
• Pavers add visual and tactile interest • Vines on trellises cover barren walls and contribute to cooling • Plants provide opportunities for outdoor learning as well as texture, color, fragrance, and habitat for insects and butterflies • Art and glass walls add to sense of school identity and place • Lighting extends the usability of the space to include evening hours
PLAN VIEW: MAIN ENTRY LANDSCAPE MODIFICATIONS
Trellises for vines
Art wall Trellises for vines
Crushed gravel path
Planted seating areas
Native prairie gardens Sitting wall
Stormwater filtration basin
Turf pavers Marshall Ave
IMAGINING MODIFICATIONS â€œBoth theory and evidence suggest that the resource underlying our capacity to direct attention can be renewed by contact with nature.â€? Andrea Farber Taylor et al. PLAZA ON MARSHALL AVENUE
1 View of main entrance plaza showing expansive paved space and reflective surfaces, with no places to sit and little vegetation.
1 View of main entrance plaza showing turf pavers, trees, lighting, native plantings, sitting wall and benches in addition to the planted terraces along the main entry stairs.
PLAZA CREATING HABITABLE SPACE A new plaza design creates shade, provides for seating areas, and breaks up the large open space in front of the school, modifying the perception of space. Lighting in the benches warms the space and makes it usable in the evening hours, while trees and turf strips cool the plaza in the daytime. In addition to this central area, a low indented wall along the entrance path provides students with a place to wait or to gather with friends. Flowering trees line this seating area, introducing fragrance and color and providing shade. Native plants border an open space that could be used as an outdoor classroom or less formal gathering area. 014
â€œ...students learn that barren patches of pavement and manicured grass can be successfully transformed into diverse and welcoming places that better respond to their own needs as well as those of other living beings. Depending on their level of involvement in the greening project, they can also learn that they have a right to participate in decisions that affect their quality of life.â€? Anne C. Bell et al.
PATH CONNECTS ENTRIES WITH LEXINGTON AVENUE
2 Path over the hill between the main school entrance and Lexington Avenue is eroded, the grass worn away.
2 Crushed gravel path with terraced stone steps crosses over the hill between the main school entrance and Lexington Avenue, passing through a native prairie planting.
PATH REDUCING EROSION AND INTRODUCING NATIVE PLANTS In order to reach the buses that line up on Lexington Avenue at the eastern boundary of the site, students currently have to cross a sloped surface, killing the grass and encouraging soil erosion. Instead, a new crushed-gravel path with terraced steps could be provided along with a native prairie garden, which would provide habitat for insects and birds as well as a place for outdoor learning. This new path will reduce soil erosion on the hill, and take students through an educational landscape. To further soften the space vines could be planted to cover the wall of the building.
â€œIf the budget of the school district is limited or if the school district wishes to prioritize which part of the outdoor environment to work on first, the landscapes that can be viewed from the lunch areas should be at the top of the list.â€?
Rodney H. Matsuoka, PhD
LOWER ENTRY ON MARSHALL AVENUE
3 Lower entry into the school is dominated by bare cement walls and low quality vegetation.
3 Lower entry into the school, showing the proposed art wall, additional seating and bike parking, paving pattern, plantings and vines on walls.
LOWER ENTRY ENHANCING SCHOOL IDENTITY The lower entrance to the school is enhanced with a new pervious paving pattern, with places to sit amongst gardens and vines. In addition, a back-lit art wall showcases student or faculty work, current events, school history, or wellknown alumni. These adjustments change this area from being merely a location to enter and exit the building to being a place for gathering, reflection, and school identity.
UPPER ENTRY ON MARSHALL AVENUE
4 Main entry at the top of the stairs is stark and uninviting and has a large amount of under-utilized space.
4 Upper entry with new garden and seating area, paving pattern with in-ground lighting, and glass wall picturing famous Central alumnae.
UPPER ENTRY GATHERING AND COMMUNITY The main entry to the school sits at the top of a flight of stairs, with a large unused space overlooking the plaza below. A new outdoor room with benches, an elevated garden, and a glass wall displaying well-known Central alumni transforms the space into a welcoming gathering area. Terraces along the stairs can be planted with flowering trees, shrubs, and native grasses, softening the entrance with color, texture, and fragrance.
“High school students today are experiencing unprecedented levels of school related stress...Perhaps more than ever before, these troubled and stressed students are in need of the proverbial “walk in the woods.”
PATH CONNECTING PARKING LOT TO ENTRY
5 Eroded roots, worn ground cover, and barren walls line the path between the parking lot and the main entry
5 Path between the parking lot and main entry has new gardens and sitting areas as well as slot drains, lighting, vines on walls and paving pattern.
PATHS TRANSITIONING INTO SCHOOL Eroded roots, stark walls, and low shrubby vegetation currently line this path from the parking lot to the main entry of the school. In the proposed modification, fragrant gardens, flowering trees, seating alcoves, vines, and paving patterns form intentional spaces for gathering and fill the experience of walking on the path with texture, fragrance, shade, and color. A new grove of flowering trees shelters this area from the street, also providing for a place for sitting.
Rodney H. Matsuoka, PhD
PARKING LOT AND GARDEN ON MARSHALL
6 Paved areas in the parking lot lead to stormwater runoff, and towering bare walls create a stark environment with little vegetation and shade.
6 View of pool entry and waiting area with new paving pattern, gardens, vines on the walls and permeable paving in the parking lot.
PARKING LOT AND GARDEN TREATING STORMWATER The dominant material in this corner of the school is concrete, making it a harsh environment for people and creating stormwater runoff that flows untreated into storm drains. Permeable pavers filter water where it falls and allow it to infiltrate, while biofiltration basins capture any remaining runoff. Gardens attract pollinators and form a pleasant waiting alcove around benches, while a new paving pattern brings texture and color to the space. Vines reduce passive heat gain in the building and cut down reflectivity from the walls, as well as soften the space.
BIKE PARKING ADJACENT TO PARKING LOT
7 Bike parking area is well-used but in a harsh environment of bare walls and little to no vegetation, increasing stormwater runoff and exposure to the elements and decreasing readability of space.
7 Vines growing on trellises cover the wall near the bike parking area, and a new paving pattern delineates space.
BIKE PARKING ADJACENT TO PARKING LOT The bike parking area is surrounded by high CMU walls that reflect light, sound, and heat. In the proposed modification, a strip of native grasses and vines creates an absorptive barrier as well as brings much-needed vegetation into the space. The porous paving pattern differentiates the sidewalk from the bike parking area, and permeable paving in the parking lot reduces stormwater runoff.
NOTES ON PLANT CHARACTERISTICS University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Program (1997). Trees, shrubs, and vines for minnesota landscapes: Woody vines. Retrieved from: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/ components/0545frame03.html
Central High School Staff
Mary Mackbee, Principal Rubens Modellis, Environmental Education Teacher Ethan Cherin, NHS Advisor, Teacher
University of Minnesota Extension (1999). Vines: Growing a living screen. Retrieved from: http://www.extension.umn.edu/projects/yardandgarden/ ygbriefs/h447vines-livscrn.html
Brian Mitchell, Web support, survey collection Nathan Gagne, NHS, survey collection Elizabeth Ebert, Roots and Shoots
University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Program (2007). The best plants for 30 tough sites. Retrieved from: http://www.extension.umn. edu/distribution/horticulture/DG8464.html
Julie Marckel, PAC Co-Chair, Committee Chair Lisa Heyman, PAC Co-Chair Deb Ahlquist Patricia Eaves Tina Fahnestock Patricia Teefy Nina Tuttle Steve Vadnais Kale Hedstrom Kris Hageman Peter Mitchell Susan Mitchel Tonya Jackson Ama Anika
University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Program (1997). Trees, shrubs, and vines for Minnesota landscapes: Trees. Retrieved from: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/ components/0545frame01.html
BIBLIOGRAPHY Bell, Anne C. & Dyment, J. (2008). Grounds for health: the intersection of green school grounds and health-promoting schools. Environmental Research, 14 (1), 77-90. Retreived from: http://dx.doi. org/10.1080/13504620701843426 Matsuoka, R. (2008). High school landscapes and student performance. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/61641
Tom Parent, Facilities Planning Manager
Moore, R. &Marcus, C. (2008). Healthy planet, healthy children: Designing nature into the daily spaces of childhood. In Kellert, S.R., Heerwagen, J. and Mador, M., Biophilic design: the theory, science, and practice of bringing buildings to life (153-202). Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley
Annie Johnson, Union Park District Council Margaret Jones, Lex-Ham Community Council
Taylor, A., Kuo, F., & Sullivan, W. (2001). Views of nature and selfdiscipline: evidence from inner city children. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 21, 1-15. Retrieved from http://www.lhhl.uiuc.edu/
METROPOLITAN DESIGN CENTER Design Team Ignacio San Martin, Dayton Hudson Professor, Chair of Urban Design and Director of the Metropolitan Design Center Sarah Weeks, MLA, Research Fellow
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Published on Feb 25, 2015
A group of parents, teachers, and administrators approached the Metropolitan Design Center to compile research and propose design alternativ...