Category : Landscape Architecture

The Dam Plan – A Place For All

There has been an urgent call recently to connect people back to natural places, especially in urban settings. Research shows people are more likely to advocate and care for their environment when they have a strong attachment to a place. In Des Moines, one of the greatest resources we have—the reason the city is located here in the first place—is the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers, which flow through the metro and connect south of Principal Park.…

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Clear Strategic Principles to Planning

This is first in a series of articles sharing insights from our work with St. Cloud State University’s (SCSU’s) Comprehensive Facilities Planning process – a rich experience, full of learning for all!

It’s a basic tenet of planning that clear, aligned, strategic principles, articulated and understood from the highest level and throughout an institution, are foundational for a successful plan.…

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Creative Placemaking: Storytelling About People and Culture

The term “Creative Placemaking” has become one of those overused phrases or buzzwords that has either lost its meaning, or perhaps, never achieved the significant denotation that would help establish a common language. How did this happen? So often, we begin to categorize and label, to help us talk about concepts that aren’t always so easy to understand.…

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Creating a Living Laboratory on Your Campus

More colleges and universities are discovering the benefits of planning and implementing campus landscapes that are more than function and aesthetics but are transforming the campus into a “living laboratory.” These integrated learning environments are fostering strategic use of the exterior environment, connecting students to real-world applications, establishing new multipurpose spaces, and will continue to evolve as education demands change.…

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The Impact Placemaking can have on a College Campus

The process of “placemaking,” a concept that for half a century has been more common to the public realm, can help transform private campuses and campus life.

Maple trees loom large in the history of Simpson College, and in the icons and narratives created to celebrate it.…

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Branding our Parks System

Creating a Competitive Edge – with a Coordinated Parks Graphic System –

Our park systems have a multitude of competitors vying for their user’s eye and attention. Between man-made destination water parks, to indoor digital driving ranges, to digital devices which encourage park users to look more at their phone than their surroundings, our parks and park systems are in need of attention.…

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How Communities can benefit from Greenways

Long and linear, greenways are grassy or vegetated areas that can be created and cultivated or reclaimed and improved for public recreation use. Unlike a typical park, greenway trails are designed to get people somewhere, so they may connect parks, link communities or even create a regional or statewide network for non-motoroized transportation.…

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Farming the Gold of Design Residency 2015

Our 2015 Design Residency topic focused on “Urban Alchemy.” We wanted to identify how cities can combine existing and proposed urban elements and spin them into social, economic, and environmental gold. We engaged ten of the top collegiate students from across the Midwest in our design residency process, and challenged them to address a loosely-bounded district in downtown Des Moines near the riverfront that included 24-acres of proposed “re-invigoration” projects.…

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Therapeutic Gardens in Healthcare Design

For years, it’s been known that the simple act of viewing or visiting a safe landscape is beneficial to our health. It’s why corporations value the “corner office” and why picture windows became a staple in our homes; viewing landscapes makes us feel better. …

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Natural Playscapes: Healthy Childhood Development through Exploratory Play

“They splash for slithering tadpoles, tip-toe to observe butterflies, and set up mini-track and field for beetles in the sand,” says Naturalist Lew Major. “They learn things about themselves that they don’t even know they’re learning and learn in ways traditional schools aren’t teaching.”   Major animatedly refers to the children experiencing the Jester Park Natural Playscape in Polk County, Iowa, USA.…

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