What happens when you combine an innovative forward thinking City (San Jose), with a visionary trail program manager (Yves Zsutty) and a problem solving landscape architectural firm (Callander Associates)? You get Skylane…a masterplan for the Three Creeks Trail extension that provides a futuristic vision for an elevated trail gracefully crossing major transportation corridors, connecting key destinations and envisioning new entertainment destinations. Through a series of facilitated design charrette meetings, City and Callander Associates’ staff explored the inherent challenges within the corridor and brainstormed “out of the box” ideas to maximize safety, connectivity, and to reimagine what a trail could be.
The final plan documents the process and provides visually stunning renderings and engaging descriptions in hopes of educating stakeholders about a possible development plan, lobbing for funding resources, and promoting the City and its Trail Program. Plan highlights include; signature bridge features providing gateways for the City while providing safe crossings of major freeways and planned high speed rail corridors, elevated trails which overcome the challenges of limited right of way, connections to urban greening and roof top agriculture, and a new entertainment destination.
Recently the SkyLane Vision Study received a prestigious Planning Award at the International Trails Symposium. Awards are great, however we feel the best measure of success is the satisfaction of our clients.
“The Vision Study has already helped us explain visually to the Council and community the significant challenges with eastern extension of the Three Creeks Trail. We’ve also used the study to define areas of investigation for the High-Speed Rail project’s environmental document. I expect that we will be able to leverage this project for grant writing for many of our trail systems as it demonstrates problem-solving and high-caliber design. Thank you for team members’ hard work, imagination and talent.” Yves Zsutty, San Jose Trails Program Manager
Brian Fletcher, President
Envisioning City of Milpitas’s International Corridor
The City of Milpitas encompasses a progressive, highly diverse community located at the southern tip of the San Francisco Bay. About 130 ethnic and national minority groups call Milpitas home. Given its diverse makeup, the City of Milpitas has embarked on development of an “International Park” to celebrate the many nationalities in Milpitas. The International Park is envisioned as a passive use public park that provides a space where various groups representing different nationalities can locate, view, and enjoy cultural displays that they have contributed that represent and symbolize their culture.
The City retained Callander Associates to evaluate the feasibility of several sites for redevelopment into an International Park, including some located within SFPUC right-of-way, in existing parks, and in proposed parkland. The SFPUC site presented too many constraints for the desired programmatic outcome. Through a community outreach process with specific cultural stakeholder groups, the concept evolved from an international park to an ‘International Corridor’ located in a more urban area along Main Street, in Midtown.
The final concept encompasses incorporation of gateway plazas and parklets to help activate the streetscape and complement the recent developments in this revitalized area of the City. By incorporating public art in underutilized spaces, enhancing pedestrian experience through the addition of shade trees and decorative pathway lighting, and providing informal gathering areas for the community at key points along the street, the project supports the various economic and community design goals of the Midtown area while providing a way to celebrate the uniqueness and diversity of the City’s residents.
Marie Mai, Associate in our San Jose Office
Preserving the Past: 771 North Rengstorff Park
In 2013 the City of Mountain View received an unlikely phone call. A longtime resident wanted to sell her 1.2 acre property, located in a neighborhood sorely lacking community open space, to the City. City Council jumped at the opportunity, purchased the property and directed staff to develop a passive park that preserved the historical and agricultural character of the site. Additionally, it was determined that this park site would serve as the future home for the Immigrant House. This historic structure built in 1888 provided shelter for newly arrived immigrants seeking the American dream.
Callander Associates led a series of meetings designed to fully engage the community in the design process and to build a sense of ownership for the project. All meetings were well attended and provided participants the opportunity to influence program development, voice opinions, identify concerns and opportunities, and in the end evaluate the pro’s and con’s of various design solutions. Our group utilized a variety of techniques during the process including prioritization exercises, questionnaires, inspiration imagery, and high quality illustrative graphics to maximize input and understanding of the proposed improvements. As the process moved to Council it was heartening to see many community members speak glowingly of the process, the consensus that it built within the community, and ultimately spoke in support of the project. It was easy for Council to approve the plan and for the project to move forward towards implementation.
The resulting design is community based and firmly rooted in the preservation of Mountain View’s past. The Immigrant House is being restored to reflect how it looked during its period of significance and will serve as the park’s focal point. Surrounding the house will be a series of community and demonstration garden spaces including kitchen gardens, bird and butterfly gardens, and access restricted bee hives for added pollinators. The addition of a display windmill and interpretive signage further enhance the agrarian heritage of the site. The remainder of the wooded site is being preserved as open space to the greatest extent possible; however trees will be limbed up and thinned in places to enhance views from Rengstorff Ave into and around the park. Access will be provided through a looping trail system, bench seating and limited picnic spaces. Construction documents are currently being developed for a projected start of construction in winter of 2016.
Dave Rubin, Project Manager, has received lots of praise from the Community and the City for this project! Go Dave!
Sense of Place: East Sunnyvale
Sunnyvale’s rezoning of industrial land to residential in strategic areas of the City have helped it meet growing housing needs while maintaining its important tax base. However, the prior industrial uses have resulted in car-centric areas with missing sidewalks, crosswalks, and other basic pedestrian facilities. To improve the experience of these transition areas as livable, desirable residential neighborhoods, the City has developed a Sense of Place Plan for each location to encourage non-vehicular modes of travel, enhance neighborhood identity and character, and provide a quality residential experience through a focus on a vibrant streetlife.
Callander Associates has been retained to develop a Sense of Place Plan for the East Sunnyvale area of the City. The plan would function as a policy document to ensure that future improvements would support land uses that contribute to development of a vibrant residential neighborhood. The Plan would:
- Enhance the quality of life for existing and future residents by encouraging and supporting a vibrant streetlife through wayfinding signage, seating areas, access nodes, and the addition of destinations and neighborhood-scale amenities.
- Encourage non-vehicular modes of travel by making those options (pedestrian, bicycle, transit) more comfortable through circulation, landscaping, lighting, and streetscape improvements.
- Enhance the neighborhood character and identity by providing entry monuments to define the limits of the neighborhood and beautifying the streetscape.
Proposed improvements include completion of gaps in pedestrian facilities, increasing walkability of the neighborhood through smaller-scaled blocks, improving pedestrian safety and crossing ease on a key school route, and improving access to destinations such as schools and parks. Green-colored bike lanes on major streets will improve the visibility and comfort of bicyclists. Re-allocation of the street right-of-way from vehicles to bicycles, sidewalks, and landscaping allows a complete streets approach without requiring additional right-of-way. School route access will be improved through intersection enhancements that include in-pavement warning lights, high visibility crosswalks, and bulb-outs. Other traffic calming practices such as raised crosswalks, removal of ‘pork chop’ islands, and reduction of intersection corner radii will be implemented to moderate traffic speeds and volumes.
The streetlife experience will be enhanced through consistent treatment of street frontages with lighting, street trees, and a parkway strip. Seating areas will be located to encourage neighborly interactions and ‘eyes on the street’. Public access corridors through private residential developments will be clearly delineated through special paving, signage, and entry treatments such as thematic lights.
These improvements pertain primarily to the public right-of-way, although some recommendations for circulation and streetlife enhancements affect site and building design and orientation. The plan also contains sections describing likely costs, potential funding sources, and methods for and timing of implementation.
Marie Mai, Associate
Bay Friendly Green Streets: Hacienda Update
Some of you reading this may have also read my posting on action groups. This is our ongoing effort to identify individual passions and align groups of like-minded people into “action groups”. These groups would be charged with advancing their own personal knowledge and expertise and the by-product of their efforts will lead to firm growth, innovation, and leadership. The goal is for these groups to be somewhat autonomous in order to determine their own direction and research. I am pleased to say that our first group, the Connect team, took it upon themselves to visit one of our streetscape projects currently under construction, Hacienda Avenue. For details of this project click here.
The project is now about half way through construction. The street will be totally reconstructed, including full reconstruction of the roadway to lower grades and improve drainage; however the new flush curbs and sidewalks are being constructed first. It was interesting to see the significant grade difference between existing road grades and the new curbs, sometimes upwards of eighteen inches! We also saw firsthand the impacts a project like this has on the neighborhood and serves as a good reminder to continually evaluate how to lessen those impacts through design and construction staging strategies.
Finally we were able to see the impacts bio retention planters have on existing trees and construction detailing. These planters work by utilizing a special blend of soil and subdrains, all of which require these areas to be over excavated creating potential impacts to existing trees as well as undermining the newly poured curbs. Direction from our geotechnical engineer, regarding side slopes at the curbs, was incorporated into our plans and specifications to ensure stability. While tree protection measures in place could have been more substantial, we are pleased that the trees are showing their resiliency as evident through their flowering and leafing out. In all it was a great outing for the Connect team and provided some great inspiration for future work. Can’t wait to share completed photographs in the next few months.
Brian Fletcher, President
Outdoor Living Spaces: Avalon Morrison Park
Callander Associates closely collaborated with the architect and owner to create resort-style outdoor living spaces at a new 250 unit townhome-style apartment complex located in downtown San Jose. Our services included design of on-podium courtyards, private patio spaces, secured entry gates, entry icons, on-grade courtyards, and outdoor showers.
Selection of the exterior furnishings was closely coordinated with the interior furnishings to create a unified indoor-outdoor environment. Furnishing styles, materials, and colors were carefully chosen to provide a richness of material and variety, without looking too coordinated or busy. Nana walls at the on-podium clubhouse seamlessly led from the game room outdoors to a seating area with barbeque islands, a built-in banquette seat, and outdoor fire pit.
The primary design challenge was to create comfortable, inviting outdoor spaces within a tight footprint while working within the unique limitations imposed by construction on a podium. Custom metal art panels enliven walls along the main courtyard and buildings, and provide a low maintenance but interesting visual focal point. Overhead festoon lighting at the outdoor living room and kitchen area provide a warmth and festive ambience to residents and their guests.
On-grade entries are marked by stone seatwalls set within striped plaza paving. On-podium entries are marked by a stepped procession leading up to a lighted entry column which will serve as a visual beacon and entry marker both day and night. With two product types and development spread over both on-grade and on-podium areas, colorful planter pots located in strategic gathering areas help to visually unify the whole development.
Units are now renting, with construction completion anticipated by May 2014. Having seen the project through both the planned development permit and building permit phases, we are excited to see residents moving in and being able to enjoy the many amenities offered at Avalon Morrison Park.
Marie Mai, Associate
McClatchy Park: Inspired by It’s Past
Located in the heart of Sacramento’s historic Oak Park neighborhood, McClatchy Park is a beloved neighborhood space hosting a farmer’s market, little league baseball, disk golf, and many other active and passive park activities. Thanks to the recent award of a State grant, the City found themselves able to revive several of the park’s older, less used, facilities, expand the list of park amenities and upgrade many portions of the park’s infrastructure. Callander Associates is thrilled to be working with the City of Sacramento on this renovation project.
McClatchy Park is located on the site of what was “Joyland”, a turn of the century amusement park that included a zoo, carousel, miniature train and a wooden roller coaster known as the “Scenic Railway”. Inspiration for many of the park’s improvements has been found in the park’s historic amusement features.
The expanded playground facilities focus on a “Scenic Railway” inspired school-age play structure flanked by ice cream cone, popcorn and candied apple climbing features. Younger children will be able to play inside a fun house structure and a replica of the original miniature train while a zoo of climbable animals will await the youngest toddler age visitors. New park amenities include a carousel inspired water play area, a butterfly garden and a skate park which was designed, in part, through community outreach facilitated by Callander Associates’ team.
The park updates also include renovations to several portions of the parks infrastructure including upgrades to the park’s irrigation system to facilitate improved efficiency, replacement of existing park pathway lights with solar powered LED lights, and grading and drainage system improvements.
Callander’s services include public outreach, master planning, and design development. Currently, we are finalizing construction documents with construction anticipated to begin in the Spring of 2014.
Dan Miller, Project Manager