Parks In The City: San Francisco Recreate Tour

On a warm September Saturday,  a group of us set out to tour park projects in San Francisco to observe firsthand what our fellow Landscape Architecture firms were designing and to learn from their designs.

Our first stop was Mariposa Park, directly across the street from the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. The project’s plant palette was truly impressive for a park in the middle of the city. The diversity, density, and variety in color made walking around the park a very enjoyable experience.

After Mariposa Park we took the short walk over to Daggett Plaza. The plaza is a recreational green space between two relatively new apartment buildings. The plaza features a small dog park, open lawn, public art, and a hybrid seating art piece near the center of the park. The modular geometric concrete blocks placed together at varying heights is the star element, adding both character and seating to the park.

We then made our way to Mission Bay Kids Park which had a good mix of natural play and contemporary play features. There were multiple gatherings taking place and kids of all ages running around the park. The park featured many of the new play equipment products from Kompan and Landscape Structures and it was interesting to see the equipment in action.

Our next stop was the recently opened Sales Force Transit Center’s roof garden. Arriving at the site, we were amazed by the sheer size of the park and the maturity of the trees. The circular site reminded us of the highline in New York.

After vising the transit center, we made a quick stop for lunch and then walked to Hellen Diller Civic Center Play Ground. Upon arriving, we found out the park was blocked off for the Rise for Climate Jobs + Justice Fair and Mural. We were impressed by the large unique circular net structure in the middle of the playground and the simple use of materials and color to transform a section of the plaza into a welcoming space for all to enjoy.

This marked the end of our tour and we all reflected on the projects we visited. Experiencing fellow Landscape Architecture firm’s work was truly inspirational and a learning experience we look forward to using to further enhance our work here at CALA.

Kelly Kong, Designer in the San Jose Office

We are Growing: Now Hiring

CALA has three new positions open! We are looking for candidates with the right combination of personal, professional, technical and communication skills coupled with a pure passion for landscape architecture, and a strong desire to advance in the profession. Is this you?

Click the below links for more information. I look forward to hearing from you!

Designer/Job Captain – San Jose Office

Project Manager – Burlingame Office

Designer – Gold River Office (Sacramento area)

Sonja Ditto, HR Manager

College Life to Work Life: Joining the CALA Family

Welcome to the Callander Associates family, new project designers and recent college graduates, Amanda, Cameron, and Kelly!


1) What trials did you face during your job search?

A: Because of my previous internships I did not have as much experience with AutoCAD and construction documents. Firms I had interviewed with asked about my construction document experience and I had few projects to show.

C: I found it difficult to work passionately for my part-time  jobs as a Graphic Designer, Landscape Contractor, and Lifeguard knowing it would take full-time effort to pursue, and ultimately secure, a position at a respectable firm.  

K:Most of the jobs I found required a minimum of 1 to 2 years of full time experience in a landscape architecture firm, which I did not have. In the end, I applied to any job which required 3 or less years of experience.

Amanda taking a break in studio at Iowa State University, Ames IA.

2) What are some of the differences between college life and work life?

A: College life is less structured with huge gaps between classes you can choose how to spend your time. but at work, your breaks are limited, you have to be responsible with the time you now have.

K: Yup, no more staying up late and betting on your afternoon class gap to nap.

C: Don’t forget about the dress code! Throwing on whatever clean clothes I could gather worked at school, but an often overlooked aspect of being a professional is dressing the part.     

3) What advice do you have for soon to be and recent college graduates looking for a Landscape Architecture job?

A: Ask your professors and professionals for advice and resources. Do firm visits or job shadows to get a feel for the type of firm environment you want to work for. Make connections with landscape architecture professionals or graduated students. You will get rejected from jobs but take that as a learning experience and move on.

C: Keep an open mind. You may not have your “dream job” upon graduating but that’s okay! The technical skill-set and knowledge base of a typical Landscape Architecture graduate is valuable and applicable to a number of disciplines.           

K: Learn AutoCAD and construction documents. Seriously. These are the two things that will get your foot in the door.

Cameron working on a project in studio at University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

4) What about Callander Associates impacted your decision to join the team?

A: Prior to my interview I was intrigued by the diversity of projects on the CALA website, ranging from small parks to lage trail master plans. I left my interview excited, not only by the opportunity to work on diverse projects, but to be a part of a firm that encourages professional growth through continued education program.

C: I left my interview at CALA drawn to the idea that I would be involved in all aspects of a project from preliminary design through construction administration. Predictable daily routines and a feeling that their opinions weren’t appreciated were issues my colleagues from school had with being young professionals in the design industry. CALA’s size encourages meaningful collaboration between entry and senior level employees, and provides inumerable learning opportunities and greater responsibilities on projects.

K: After my interview, I had a feeling Callander Associates’ work ethics aligned with mine. My colleagues, who interviewed me, showed enthusiasm when they reminisced events they planned to gain community feedback. They also expressed the importance of wanting employees to have a healthy work life balance – “if you are consistently putting in more than 8 hours a day, then we need to fix something”.

Kelly posing for a picture during a cold winter day in studio at the University of California, Davis.

5) Knowing what you know about working now, would you have done anything different in school to get ready for it?

K: I would try to get a landscape architecture internship or mentorship as a freshman and sophomore, instead of waiting till I am a junior.  Firms typically prefer students with more experience, but some of my studiomates were able to find internships and mentorships when they were a freshman or sophomore. You could visibly see through their work how their early work experience within the landscape architecture field allowed them to get more out of our studios, classes, and professors; thus making them stronger job applicants.

A: Yeah. Get involved with organizations such as Student Society of Landscape Architecture and ASLA (American Society of Landscape architecture) early into your education to gain more experience and meet Landscape Architects.

CR: Agree! I found my job at CALA through my old TA who was a studio mate of my now co-worker. Stay connected and get involved!

Written By: Cameron Roach, Amanda Holtman, & Kelly Kong Designers in Gold River and San Jose

Trail Count 2017!

Can there be a better way to spend a couple hours in the middle of the workweek than being outdoors, sitting alongside one of San Jose’s many streamside trails?  Just getting away from the office and watching cyclists and joggers whoosh by, or mothers pushing their little ones in a stroller or even the occasional skateboarder gliding by, is a welcome relaxation for a typical Wednesday.  A few of our staff had just that experience when they volunteered for the City of San Jose’s 11th annual trail count.

Callander Associates has, for the better part of a decade been involved in counting trail users at trail count stations all over the City. Our staff are enthusiastic to return each year as they have a pure passion for trails.  Here is what our volunteers had to say about this years count:

Nate Ritchie, Project Manager in our Burlingame Office: “This was my third year participating in the trail count and I have to say it was quite fun! I was stationed in a beautiful location right by a creek and fountain. It seemed like such an oasis from the City. Watching people enjoy the trails is a rewarding experience. My count was pretty high for mid-afternoon, 100 people in two hours! Shows how important the trail network is to the community.”

Jana Schwartz, Designer in our San Jose Office: “This is my second year as a trail counter, and I love that the City provides this opportunity for me to be involved in the data-collection process. I am a data junky and a frequent trail user, so this experience is enjoyable on many levels. As a Downtown San Jose resident and professional, I rely on the trial system for work commutes as a transportation corridor and for fun as a gateway to regional activities. Taking counts and having conversations with other trail users reinforces the importance of the trail system and the mission to expand and enhance the network.”

Marie Mai, Associate in our San Jose Office: “I’ve been doing Trail Counts for the City almost since the inception of the program, and have had the opportunity to count at a number of different trail systems. What I’ve noticed is how popular the trails are to employees working in San Jose. From Cisco employees commuting along Coyote Creek Trail, to Ebay employees doing walking meetings along Los Gatos Creek Trail, to Adobe employees taking a lunch stroll along the Guadalupe River Trail, the trail network provides a great benefit to the local community.”

Fact Sheet prepared by Yves Zsutty, Citywide Trail System Program Manager

To learn more about this years findings,  click here to view the recently published Trail Count 2017 Summary Report, prepared by the City of San Jose’s Citywide Trail System Program Manager, Yves Zsutty. The City has ambitious goals for their trail system and the trail count goes a long way in paving the way for future trail development around the City.  We look forward to participating in future trail counts!

– Dave Rubin, Associate in our San Jose Office

Results Are In!

We were inspired by the gathering of professionals at the March 2017 CPRS Conference to try to decipher current trends in parks and recreation and to share the knowledge with the larger community.  A survey was sent to CPRS members in February to gather their input prior to the conference. Key results were shared at the CPRS Expo and are shown below, with highlights including:

  • Popular recreational facilities and activities tend to stand the test of time. What was popular 10 years ago (sports / fields, playgrounds, aquatics) are still popular today. The greatest change in popularity is related to an increased interest in fitness and related activities like walking and outdoor gyms.  Providing a looped pathway design in a park can help agencies meet this interest without significant capital investment.
  • Multi-use facilities are on the rise, and they apply to a wide range of facilities: sports fields, sport courts, and park open spaces. With land at an increasing premium, devotion to a single use (ie. golf courses) appears to be outdated. Sports fields should be designed to accommodate multiple sport types and sizes of uses on a single space. Layout of sport courts should accommodate multiple layers of striping, each representing a different sport. Park open spaces should be designed to accommodate traditional passive recreation park activities, while also allowing for special events and other specially programmed activities. Multi-use spaces provide a larger return on capital investments, better accommodate a range of users, and are a way to obtain the most ‘bang for the buck’.

  • Special events (such as cultural celebrations) and holiday themed events (like Easter egghunts) tend to be the most well attended types of programming events that agencies can offer. Sports programs and music in the park events also tend to draw a lot of people.
  • Over 70% of agencies do not use phone apps. Most agencies use social media, but have a harder time translating that presence into true engagement with their communities. Many respondents report using social media in a more passive manner: to provide news updates and generally stay connected to constituents.  This presents an area of opportunity for agencies to utilize technology to improve their operations and communications with the community by crowd-sourcing identification (and locations) of problems and tracking progress electronically.

  • Respondents skewed slightly towards those from Northern California. 51% of respondents were from the north, 42% were from the south, and the remaining were from Central California (or didn’t provide a response).
  • Do you have suggestions for other survey questions and information that would be helpful to your agency and the larger park and recreation community?  Drop us a line!

Pictured above, Ben Woodside, Iqra Anwar and Brenna Castro manning our CPRS Booth!











Marie Mai, Associate in the San Jose Office

North Natomas Regional Park: Bike Yard

Just how many bikes can you park comfortably in two automobile parking stalls? In the case of the newly installed Bike Corral at North Natomas Regional Park, about 24. Funding by the North Natomas Transmit Management Authority and the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District allowed the conversion of two existing 9’x18’ parking stalls to increase bike parking at the 47-acre park (where Callander has also had a hand in designing a dog park and trail upgrades).


Photo courtesy of North Natomas Transportation Management

The new 10-rack “Bike Yard” plays off of existing color and materiality in the park. It is enclosed by pre-cast split rail fencing adorned with laser cut steel lettering. Diagonal concrete score joints demarcate potential future color banding to create horizontal interest. Several existing bike racks were relocated from other locations in the park into the corral to reduce cost and increase efficient use of a tight space.

With the added bike parking a new bike valet hub becomes available for numerous events that take place in the park whether it be a bike-in movie night or seasonal farmer’s market. Additionally, increasing the amount of available bike parking will hopefully aid in reducing car dependence that is prevalent in suburban neighborhoods and encourage more trips  by bicycle leading to a more vibrant and healthy North Natomas!


The North Natomas TMA is now accepting grant applications for North Natomas businesses that want to install placemaking infrastructure that helps encourage pedestrian and bike traffic. More information can be found at the following link:

Written & Designed by Nate Oakley, Designer in Rancho Cordova office. 

Field Trip : Connect and Sustain Action Groups


On a picturesque Tuesday in early May, members of the Live and Work, Recreate, and Connect Action Groups gathered together to learn about a brand new community development in San Mateo called Bay Meadows. Described as “a charming urban village…Bay Meadows combines the communal feeling of the suburbs with cultural aspects of the city.” With amenities ranging from urban gardening to bocce ball, to yoga in a park, we were eager to see for ourselves exactly what made Bay Meadows such a special development.


Briefly after gathering in Landing Green Park, our group got the chance to speak to a Bay Meadows representative about the current state of the development. She explained to us that Bay Meadows provides an array of single family homes that are either nestled within mixed-use development along Deleware Street (which is currently under construction) or overlooking one of Bay Meadow’s numerous parks. She also explained that she and others coordinate events like movies in Bay Meadows Park, Zumba classes, and social media giveaways.


We then took to touring the impressive development with a map in hand and a wide-eyed curiosity. Landing Green Park caught the eyes of our plant experts Pierre and Brenna in particular, and with good reason. The linear park’s plant palette skillfully mixed texture and color while still maintaining a drought tolerant status. Punctuated with a statement sculptural piece by Chuck Ginnever, it is easy to imagine a full day spent playing bocce ball, appreciating art, and taking a deep breath in the gardens of Landing Green Park, but alas we had plenty left to see.


Immediately after our Landing Green Park daydream we moseyed over to arguably the most remarkable piece of the Bay Meadows expanse, Persimmon Park. Flanked by cozy townhomes, Persimmon Park holds 99 gardening beds providing members of the community an opportunity to cultivate their green thumb. For those who are not quite as horticulturally savvy, there is a resident gardener who frequently provides insight and classes. Persimmon Park is more than just a space for gardening, though. An incredible 30’ community table and adjacent barbecues offer community members a unique dining opportunity; and with a nature play area anchoring Persimmon Park, it would not be a surprise if all children living in Bay Meadows quickly stopped being so finicky with their vegetables.


There is little doubt that Bay Meadows serves as an exciting precedent for comprehensive community developments throughout Northern California in the future. What makes Bay Meadows particularly interesting is the commitment to both thoughtful space and thoughtful programming. These principle’s serve as important reminders to the Callander team and to all Landscape Architects that our spaces serve as more than just beautiful backdrops, but also as an active space for people to live their lives.


Tom Martin is a Designer in our Rancho Cordova Office and member of our Connect & Sustain Action Groups!

Jess Jackson Sustainable Winery Facility Tour Part 1: Building Energy Efficiency

In late August 2015, the Callander Associates Sustainability Interest Group visited the Jess Jackson Sustainable Winery at UC Davis to learn more about the sustainable practices implemented there. The facility is self-sustainable in energy and water and “fully solar at peak load with a zero-carbon footprint,” making it a superb example of how these practices can be used in real-world situations. Dr. Roger Boulton, a winery-engineering expert and the Stephen Sinclair Scott Endowed Chair in Enology at UC Davis, walked the group through the overall processes and specific interventions for on-site energy production, energy efficiency in building design, capture and reuse of stormwater in the landscape, and carbon sequestration. His insight and expertise also illuminated several good practices in infrastructure design  that contribute to project sustainability by reducing the amount of work that needs to be done and redone over the lifetime of the project.


The Jess Jackson Sustainable Winery Facility Tour can be broken down into three major categories of importance including building energy efficiency, water capture and reuse efficiency, and good practices in infrastructure design. This article will focus on the first category: energy efficiency in building design.

According to the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the Jess Jackson Sustainable Winery is “expected to be the first building at any university to be certified [as] Net Zero Energy under the Living Building Challenge and [is] only the second such building in California.” It is a fully solar-powered facility, with solar panels on the roof of the winery and adjacent buildings producing twice as much energy as is consumed by the winery on a peak energy-use day. Future plans for new-generation solar panels and 2nd life lithium batteries will allow for improved efficiency and storage of surplus energy. Strategies to reduce overall energy use include:

  • Solar tubes for lighting scatter light effectively on sunny days, reducing need for artificial lighting
  • Heating and cooling of water is carefully managed and minimized
  • Ice for cooling water is saved and topped off each day rather than making new ice every day
  • Conservative engineering of water filtration system – water use for a winery peaks in fall but is minimal throughout the rest of the year, so water can be captured and filtered for storage from the beginning of the rainy season to the beginning of harvest. The pump size and energy demand are minimized by filtering water slowly over the whole year to meet fall’s peak demand.


Of particular interest are the innovative systems used for heating and cooling the winery, which drastically reduce energy demand. The building envelope is highly-insulated and is considered to be “tight,” having minimal leakage (additional technical information can be found here) and therefore maintaining cool temperatures even during Davis’s hot summers. The following passive cooling techniques are utilized to minimize energy use:

  • Fans pull cool outside air into the bottom of the building at night, warm air flows out top windows (which open automatically)
  • Cooling system turns on based on the change in the outside air temperature (when the nightly low temperature is reached) rather than based on time or on threshold temperature. This minimizes run time needed to achieve cooling.
  • Vines and roof overhangs on east and west sides of the building shade the walls. Vines were chosen instead of trees so as not to shade the solar panels on the roof.

These strategies result in an approximately 4°F flux in internal building temperatures on a day with 40°F flux in outside temperatures! While many of the energy saving practices in the building design are impressive, stay tuned for Part 2 of the Sustainable Winery Facility Tour which will discuss water capture, reuse, and moreover water efficiency principles which can be applied to the landscape.


-Sustain Action Group Members,  Iqra Anwar and Brenna Castro