CALLANDER Landscape Architects Mon, 13 Jul 2015 15:43:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Preserving the Past: 771 North Rengstorff Avenue Park Thu, 09 Jul 2015 22:31:36 +0000 sonja 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!

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National Trails Awards 2015: Putah Creek Wed, 03 Jun 2015 21:27:50 +0000 sonja The Putah Creek North Bank Trail Improvements Project is one of the City of Winter’s first steps in creating the Putah Creek Nature Preserve. Callander Associates assisted the City in creating a multi-use paved trail with enhanced accessibility. This new trail connects the downtown and community center park with the surrounding neighborhoods via a gracefully undulating trail that travels along the creek and preserve. The trail includes a pedestrian overlook deck placed near the historic railroad trestle pedestrian bridge and other resting points along the length. A future planned phase includes a large 225’ pedestrian bridge to be placed at the east end of the park to complete the nature preserve’s loop trail.


We are excited to announce that the Putah Creek Trail project won the 2015 Planning & Design Award at the National Trails conference! To see more on this project click here.



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Sense of Place: East Sunnyvale Thu, 30 Apr 2015 16:18:12 +0000 sonja 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


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Conserving Water One Step At A Time Thu, 30 Apr 2015 16:15:54 +0000 sonja California has for many years been in a drought, but this year is the worst in recorded history. With no snow pack and not a lot of rain this winter (or spring!) everyone is looking for ways to conserve water.  From the beginning, Callander has always designed our projects with water conservation at the forefront by being advocates of drip irrigation and specifying low or very low water use plants, but do our employees also conserve water in their personal lives? Well…I asked and these are the answers I received:


Dave Rubin:  Last fall, we turned off all but one of our irrigation zones at home.  The only part of the landscape still getting water this summer?…A small veggie garden!  And even that is scaled back this year.

Brian Fletcher: The credit for our family’s water savings definitely goes to my wife.  Even before the drought she felt very strongly about water conservation.  Her strategies began small with a bucket in the shower to collect water while it comes to temperature.  That water we use for our drought resistant landscaping by our front door.  From there we have installed dual flush toilet mechanisms on existing toilets, low flow shower heads, and installed a low flow toilet on a recent remodel. For Christmas she asked for a received our first water barrel for rain water collection from our roof drains.  She was thinking a small 50 gallon barrel but what I gave her was a 220 gallon barrel which was easily filled with the early rains this year.  We plan on installing a second 220 gallon barrel this summer.

Matt Gruber: I am taking military type showers (only turning the water on to get wet, turning it off, then back on for rinsing) and putting a bucket under the faucet as the water warms up to use to flush the toilet. In addition we save all the water from washing our vegetables to be used for the vegetable garden, we save our water from brewing beer to be used in our garden, and we’ve stopped watering our lawn.

Mark Slichter: well,  in the Slichter household we have a pail in the shower that fills up with water while we’re waiting for it to get hot.  We pour that into the toilet tank after flushing so it takes a lot less fresh water to recharge the tank.  I told Matt that we do this and he let me know that they’ve been doing that forever in the Gruber household.  It’s hard to keep up with the Grubers! and of course the sprinklers are off.  That’s infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things but I’m a big believer in the collective power of people to effect events.  My dead lawn might inspire hundreds of dead lawns, or if I get my act together and switch out to drought tolerant plantings, my drought tolerant plantings might inspire hundreds of drought tolerant plantings.  Then the needle starts to move…..slowly……..

Marie Mae: We’ve been conserving water by: installing synthetic turf in lieu of real turf in our backyard; harvesting rainwater for irrigating our garden; installing an automatic drip system for irrigating our garden; installing mulch to improve soil structure and conserve soil moisture; short showers for the kids (no more baths!); basin-washing dishes by hand (using rinse water in a basin and not running the faucet); taking our car to a commercial car wash and taking it less frequently.

Nate R.: Personally, I minimize my water consumption by limiting shower time, selectively flushing the toilet, and washing dishes as quickly as possible. Choosing not to eat animal foods can save roughly 250 gallons of water per week! (Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,

Brenna: I love designing with native, low water-use plants and I’m thrilled to be able to do that more often as water conservation in the landscape becomes a top priority for our clients. At home, I even helped my parents replace their front lawn with beautiful drought tolerant shrubs and groundcover last fall, and they are already seeing water savings over last year’s numbers!

Zach: I turn off the water when I soap up in the shower (dead serious, have been doing this for about 7 years now).

Ben: The Woodside family is doing a few things to conserve water.  We have shut the water off to our toilets and are using buckets to capture the water that’s usually wasted as we wait for our shower water to heat up.  We dump the buckets in the back of the toilet and we are good to go.  I am also reducing my turf area by 1/3 and installing low water use planting.

Shawn: I’ve cut back on my yard watering days and times. I’m using a 5 gallon bucket to capture the shower water before it gets hot. Full dishwasher and laundry loads and checking for irrigation leaks.

Melissa: I have implemented a “yellow let it mellow” policy at our house and we are remodeling our bathroom with the new low flow toilet and shower fixture. I am also irrigating our shrubs and lawn on an as needed (barely surviving) basis only and I planted succulents in what was once a water feature. I am also looking to invest in a rain barrel now that I have used all my buckets for capturing the little rain water we did get.

And what do I do to conserve…

Well…at the Ditto house we have a bucket in our showers to collect the cold water (because I just can’t get myself to take a cold shower!) then we use that water for our outdoor plants and garden.  We also do not leave running water on while brushing teeth or doing dishes and have cut down on showers and the amount of time in the showers (my teenager gets a 2 song maximum!). My girls like to have water by their bed at night (or else they think they will die of thirst), but often there is leftover water, so we take that water and it gets poured into our German Shepherd’s water bowl or used for our indoor plants.

As you can see at Callander we not only design with the drought in mind we personally try to make a difference! Have we inspired you? What are you doing to conserve?

Sonja Ditto – HR & Marketing Manager

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We Love A Good Field Trip! Wed, 29 Apr 2015 19:44:35 +0000 sonja Callander Associates staff recently took advantage of our beautiful Bay Area winter weather to visit Boething Treeland Farms, a wholesale plant nursery located in Portola Valley.

As landscape architects, we had all taken the requisite plant identification and horticulture classes in school, keeping abreast of new plant varieties primarily through in-office research (latest edition of Western Garden book, anybody?).  It was a refreshing change to see ‘in the flesh’ many of the plants we have specified.  It reinforced some planting design truisms as well as prompted some thoughts regarding the plant selection and specification.


Plants of different species (and varieties) within the same container size will have a different ‘bulk’. One element that can be frustrating as plant specifiers is the range of plant sizes within each species, and the visual impact that larger container sizes oftentimes (but not always) make on the completed landscape. There is a wealth of information on the mature size of plants; what is not so easy is discerning the likely size of a plant in a one gallon container compared to a five gallon container. Plant habits, growth rates, mature sizes, and other factors make it difficult to predict the size of a plant. As designers we try to locate and space plants according to their mature size.  Doing so is more sustainable (less hedging required) and budget-friendly (fewer plants). The challenge is in the selection of the right container size for each species that maximizes their ‘Day One’ appearance so that they don’t look too sparse.

Mass planting can provide a striking visual impact. Some styles of planting design and personal preference result in a complex mosaic of multiple plant species, with plants enjoyed at an individual and intimate level. In stark contrast, a forest of Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ maples, rows of white-barked birch, or masses of Skyrocket and Moonglow juniper provide a striking visual effect, enjoyable from a distance as an almost abstract canvas of color and texture.


Projects rarely have an off season and plants should be chosen accordingly, based on the characteristics they offer throughout the year. We tend to show clients images of plants when they’re flowering and how (beautiful and green) they look at their peak, but that usually only occurs for 2 to 3 weeks out of the year.  The middle of winter, when deciduous plants are at their most bare, best showcases the year-round potential of plants. Without any leaves on them, we get a much better idea of other characteristics they have to offer, like their bark, seed pods, branch structure, and form. Two examples of stand-outs were Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’ (Red coral bark maple) and Chionanthus retusus (Chinese Fringe Tree). The Sango Kaku maple had stunning reddish color that stood out from a distance. We normally specify the Chinese Fringe Tree for its flower but its beautiful peeling bark also gives it year-round interest.


Balance deciduous with evergreen plants. Leafless trees have a reduced visual impact due to their more spindly, bare forms. Mixing in evergreen trees helps counteract that. Deciduous grasses can look ragged, especially if they have become overgrown or allowed to brown out. These types of grasses should be well integrated with other plants.

Marie Mai, Associate Landscape Architect


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Elk Grove Multi-Sports Complex: What we did over the Holidays! Thu, 23 Apr 2015 18:52:50 +0000 sonja Over the holidays, spanning from mid-November to mid-January, Callander Associates was part of a large team charged with the fast paced development of a master plan for a multi-sports complex for the City of Elk Grove.  The City had recently acquired a large 100 acre parcel and was moving forward to solidify the vision and potential costs of the project.  After many late nights and weekends and countless meetings and cell phone calls over the busy holidays, it proved to be an exciting process and really showcases what can be accomplished when a talented group of people all work together towards the same goal.


Working with user groups, stakeholders and City staff a conceptual site design was developed and presented to City Council for approval on January 28th, 2015.  The plan includes 16 multi-purpose sports fields, with 12 full-sized soccer fields and 4 training fields.  Field types are comprised of mostly sand based natural grass with a few proposed as synthetic turf. A 9,000 seating capacity stadium is proposed for the north third of the project with supporting parking, academy, stage and other facilities.  The rest of the site includes additional amenities such as playgrounds, restrooms, shade structures, par course with running path, drainage facilities, practice areas and a re-purposed maintenance building.


The City’s vision is to provide the first elite amateur and professional level soccer training and field complex in northern California.  It will provide high quality fields and facilities necessary to attract and host international, national and regional tournament competitions, camps, clinics and showcase events.


The site’s orientation relative to north was a primary design driver for the conceptual site plan.  This meant rotating the fields approximately 45 degrees relative to the property lines.  The resultant triangles created by the rotated fields led to great opportunities for the other supporting uses such as parking and playgrounds.  The needed 3,000 parking spaces are spread around the site to provide better field access and are serviced by a perimeter road.


Major site planning challenges included anticipating the future build-out of the large right-of-way for Grant Line Road and the new signal at Waterman Road.  Most of the access would come from this intersection and required careful study and design options for the parking controls and circulation of the site.   Other challenges included sensitivities to neighbors in regards to lighting, access for large trucks and anticipating future expansion of the project and planning for the area.

Ben Woodside, Principal

Credit for the above models goes to our great Callander Team: Dave Rubin, Pierre Chin-Dickey and Zach Katz!

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Bay Friendly Green Streets: Hacienda Update Tue, 07 Apr 2015 20:11:11 +0000 sonja 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

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Hot Off The Press: Historic McClatchy Park Tue, 17 Mar 2015 18:17:39 +0000 sonja Every so often a project comes along that turns out to be Press Worthy…well the editors at Landscape Architect Specifier News (LASN) felt Historic McClatchy Park Renovation was just that project! Out of 54 park project submittals, the editors at LASN chose McClatchy to be one of the 8 featured projects in their March Parks and Playground issue. article-mcclatchyWe could not be more excited on this exposure for the Oak Park Community and the City of Sacramento!

Please click here to view the article!

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Invaluable Inspiration: LADAC Fri, 27 Feb 2015 23:39:34 +0000 sonja 7863056_orig

As a proud graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo I have wanted to find ways to give back to the school beyond financial contributions.  Over the years Callander Associates has hired many Cal Poly graduates, both full time and for internships, so I have found some personal gratification in that.  However, this past year and a half I have been fortunate to become a member of the Cal Poly Landscape Architecture Department Advisory Committee (LADAC).  Comprised of former graduates who have become leaders in the profession, LADAC aims to provide the Landscape Architecture department aide in fulfilling its mission and goals. In practice the group convenes on campus three times a year to volunteer time towards guest lectures, desk critiques, and provides the department a resource to discuss curriculum and trends in the industry.

Thus far from the LADAC sessions I have attended I have been surprised how rewarding it has been.  As a guest critic in several design studios I have had the opportunity to work one on one with students as they work through their projects.  I have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of design work and graphics of the upper class students.  Specifically the care and attention put towards communicating design intent through simple, graphically rich, infographics and photorealistic simulations.  Their graphics are clearly supporting strong designs based upon a well thought out analysis of site and demographic information rather than cloaking a poor design.  I have also really enjoyed working with the first and second year students as they struggle with the design process.

Most surprisingly, however, is how great these trips have been in recharging my own personal batteries.  Being exposed to the creativity of the students and to that of my fellow LADAC members has given me a renewed focus to my own work and fodder for design inspiration.  More specifically I have been reminded how important it is not to totally succumb to the pressures of budget and schedule, which typically results in rushing the design process, but rather take the time required for analysis and research to help develop truly unique but context sensitive solutions.  I look forward to many more years of LADAC service and thus many more years of invaluable inspiration.

Brian Fletcher, President

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Align Your Passion! Thu, 26 Feb 2015 18:42:08 +0000 sonja Have you ever stepped back away from your day to day work life to think about what you are most passionate about in your profession?  Are you doing enough of that in your current job? If you could do more of it, would you then become more engaged in what you are doing?

As we all progress in our career we learn that there are going to be certain aspects about our job that we absolutely love and then there are other aspects that feel more like “work”.


With that basic premise we set a goal in 2015 of identifying individual passions and aligning groups of like-minded people into “action groups”.  We are beginning with five different groups aligned with our five work categories: Recreate, Educate, Live + Work, Connect and Sustain. The idea is simple, support employee’s’ efforts in advancing their own personal knowledge and expertise and the by-product of their efforts will lead to firm growth, innovation, and leadership.

We are hoping that each group will meet at least once a month.  The groups will provide the opportunities to share lessons learned, discuss what is on the drawing boards or under construction, share projects the have visited, and discuss outside opportunities that are directly related to those employees passions. Group members will be encouraged to attend conferences, seek out educational opportunities/classes, read literature, and visit projects.  In addition, these groups will be a core component within formulating marketing strategies and developing content.

To be honest, we are still early in the process and have only had one action group meeting to date. However, we are encouraged by the enthusiasm of this first group and the potential this program represents for personal, professional and firm growth!  Because let’s face it…a truly great design is driven by passion, plus who wouldn’t want their day to feel a little less like “work”!

Brian Fletcher, President – Connect/Live + Work Action Group Mentor

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