Honored with Two Landscape Architecture Design Awards

RDG Planning & Design receives design recognition from the Iowa Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for the following projects: The Western Technical College Integrated Technology Center Courtyard and Lower Cedar Valley Master Plan.  Western Technical College’s Integrated Technology Center Courtyard, located in LaCrosse, Wisconin, is the recipient of a Design-Built Merit Award, and the Lower Cedar Valley Master Plan, located near Lett, Iowa, is the recipient of a Planning & Analysis Merit Award.

Design-Built Award:

The Integrated Technology Center Courtyard, located in downtown La Crosse, replaces an underutilized and out dated pedestrian corridor and exemplifies the college’s mission statement and values through hands on learning, interactive classrooms and a direct connection to the environment.

The new courtyard and site design integrates functional and beautiful pathways for students, faculty, staff and other community members, connecting them to their campus destinations. The courtyard also connects people to nature by embracing an indigenous ecotype of the region, the tamarack bog, a part of the Driftless biome of southwest Wisconsin. The resulting courtyard combines a unique blend of native plants, indigenous materials and open spaces to create a “campus sponge” and a living laboratory that teaches students about their local natural environment.

This project puts the building and site technologies in the hands of the students and educators alike, uncovering the physical infrastructure for use within the academic curriculum. A few notable site sustainable features include:

  • A 15,000-gallon water reclamation system that collects discharged chiller water and rainwater to account for 100% of the site’s irrigation.
  • The integration of permeable pavers, bioretention cells and native plants which help remove over 640 pounds of sediment and infiltrate over 1,683,000 gallons of rainwater on an annual basis.
  • A LEED Platinum Certified project that helped the college demonstrate their commitment to reducing their impact on the environment.

Planning & Analysis Award:

The Lower Cedar Valley is a diverse landscape located within the Cedar River Watershed, near the confluence of the Iowa and Cedar Rivers.

The goals for the Lower Cedar Valley master planning effort intend to further validate, reinforce, and realign these goals through input and feedback: To restore and protect a functional floodplain; to promote research, learning, public engagement, and stewardship of this lands; at the same time to ensure welcoming the public to these highly sensitive landscapes but not compromise these ecosystems.  Giving our client, The Nature Conservancy, a fresh approach to their philosophy of public involvement in stewardship projects- allowing for improved stakeholder engagement and fundraising.

Our challenge was to help the stakeholders recognize the site’s potential for research, learning and even as an economic driver.  To answer the question of – how do we get people onto the land that needs protection, yet develop advocates and interest without damaging the landscape?  We began by assisting the public … understand the elements unique to their location:

  • This is the most biologically diverse landscape in Iowa with nearly 1,000 plant species.
  • It is home to more than 70% of Iowa’s amphibian and reptile species.
  • It features two distinct, globally rare plant communities: swamp white oak savanna and the central tallgrass fen (fewer than five known locations exist in the world).
  • The landscape is diverse and provides habitat for more than 44 species of reptiles and amphibians, including the rare massasauga rattlesnake and ornate box turtle. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has dedicated the region as the nation’s first Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Area.

We continued to build consensus among a diverse group of stakeholders, inventory and analyze current conditions, research, analyze, and document landscape change impacts, and educate The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the public on economic opportunities. This process resulted in a strategic roadmap identifying target areas to protect, manage, and preserve for future generations. The infrastructure within the preserves is very limited, and facilities focus on providing access to the landscape – not developing a pathway through.



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