News

Biophilic Design / Tools to Improve Health and Well-Being in Educational Environments for All Generations

Can designers foster biophilia in childhood education? Carducci Associates Principal Vince Lattanzio co-presented a workshop to answer this question at California’s Coalition for Adequate School Housing’s (CASH) 38th Annual Conference on School Facilities in February in Sacramento. Mr. Lattanzio presented with Anna Harrison, Senior Design Strategist with Aedis Architects, and Julio Lucas, Director of Capital Planning and Design for the East Side High School District of Silicon Valley.

With California’s Proposition 51 funding available for school construction and modernization projects, CASH holds the state accountable to support school facility needs. CASH’s annual conference provides a platform to propose an implementation strategy and share knowledge about school facility best practices. For landscape architects, this is an opportunity to build state-of-the-art learning environments informed by current scientific research translated into design and planning strategies.

Biophilia is described in scientist and naturalist E.O. Wilson’s 1984 book of the same name as “the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. Innate means hereditary and hence part of ultimate human nature” (31). Fostering this bond through design is studied in environmental design consultant Terrapin Bright Green’s “Fourteen Patterns of Biophilic Design” and in Timothy Beatley’s “Handbook of Biophilic City Planning and Design.”

Carducci Associates often incorporates these principles throughout their designs for educational and childcare facilities. On the boards, Principal Vince Lattanzio, Associate Principal Jin Kim, and Associate Monty Hill (bios here) bring biophilia to San Jose’s Overfelt High School. “The landscape emulates the energy of a river flowing through the campus that allows for free-flowing movement and restful eddies.”

Landform and materiality evoke a river, eddies and an estuary at Overfelt High School in San Jose, CA.

Presentation / On the Boards

Novato Council to Review Hill Road Recreation Plan

The suggested first phase of work includes four pickleball courts, expanded parking with a lot along Hill Road and a synthetic turf field with spectator seating. All components would be accessible to the disabled.

The plan also calls for a half-mile lighted path.

Additional project phases would include the installation of bocce courts, playground equipment, a second synthetic turf field and more parking.

All fields would be multi-use and open for soccer, lacrosse, baseball and other recreational activities, said Vincent Lattanzio, principal and president of Carducci and Associates, of San Francisco.

...

With added synthetic turf, the proposal would reduce maintenance costs, officials said. It would also allow for recreational use of fields during winter months, when the city’s natural fields are typically closed to the public, [Novato Park and Recreation Director Pam] Shinault said.

“With synthetic turf, you expand use for three additional months in the winter,” she said. “You can use them when they’re raining. We close natural turf area for three months in the winter. We do that so the fields are not damaged in rain and the grass has a chance to rejuvenate.”

The full article, by Stephanie Weldy of the Marin Independent Journal, posted the article on March 26, 2017, here.

Press Release

Contested Turf in San Francisco Bay Area Sports Field Design / Designing for Synthetic Turf Fields

Sports fields provide a surprisingly complex terrain for landscape architects. Multi-use athletic fields ground significant contemporary themes in landscape architecture’s professional and academic worlds: the duality of the natural and the artificial, ecology as the protagonist of a design, and the unsung role of maintenance. Conversations during their site design process can play into a cultural aversion to material artifice or into the aesthetic preference for an evergreen lawn inherited from England.

Benefits to Synthetic Turf Field Applications

The following land use, ecological, and athletic issues contribute to the growing use of synthetic turf:

- conflicting demands of natural turf for maintenance (which, like other biotic things, needs to breathe) and of a large population for play space in the expensive San Francisco Bay Area,
- shrinking maintenance budgets,
- creating a literal ‘even playing field,’ by avoiding soil’s lumpiness and grading for drainage, and
- growing public demand for low-water, drought-resilient landscapes.

Evolving Scientific Research and Site Design

But a synthetic turf sports field also raises emotionally-charged concern over its impact on the environment and on health and safety of athletes, especially children.

On public projects, landscape architects are caught in between those convinced synthetic turf is harmful and those convinced synthetic turf is safe, each citing different studies. Anticipating this challenge, Carducci Associates mediates between the diverse priorities of public field users, scientific findings, and clients. Bringing scientists, with expertise in the material components of synthetic turf and in research processes, into design and public processes helps.

Within the nuanced process of designing a synthetic turf field, infill has become one of the most controversial components. A granular material that works as a synthetic stand-in for soil, infill is often comprised of crumbled, recycled rubber tires. Crumb rubber has raised concerns nationally and locally, from a recent artificial turf installation at the Beach Chalet Fields in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, to a multi-agency federal initiative launched in February 2016 known as the Federal Research Action Plan on Recycled Tire Crumb Use on Playing Fields and Playgrounds. In June 2015, the California Environmental Protection Agency the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) committed under a contract with CalRecycle to conduct a new study on synthetic turf and potential human health impacts.

While crumb rubber is under scrutiny, user groups are calling for infill alternatives that contain materials like recycled athletic shoes, cork and coconut, or other synthetic materials. The Los Angeles Unified School District and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation no longer use crumb rubber. In the greater San Francisco Bay Area, dozens of facilities (including schools, public parks, the Facebook Corporate Campus) have used infill alternatives fabricated with cork, organic fiber, recycled turf, sand and TPE (a plastic).

Carducci Associates’ Leadership in Sports Field Design

For community meetings, Carducci Associates has analyzed more than a dozen synthetic turf infill materials with its team of experts: Principals Bill Fee and Vince Lattanzio, Associate Principal Wesley Bexton, Senior Associate Alvin Tang, and Associate Philip Dinh (bios here). While comparing playability, cost, material components, and maintenance, alongside a timeline of political, funding, and construction processes, we record and respond to public questions and concerns. Attendees’ priorities at recent community meetings focus on long-term ecological, economic and health concerns:

1. Install a non-crumb rubber field that allows for healthy recreation.

2. Study the lifecycle costs of crumb rubber and alternatives, beyond capital cost, to address disposal and longevity.

3. Consider phasing strategies that permit for more expensive alternative infills.

4. Cost is less of a priority than health and safety.

The results of current federal and state studies on crumb rubber infill have yet to surface in part because the health impacts of exposure will be studied during the hottest months of 2017. While agencies, designers and athletes wait for the outcome, landscape architects should study and incorporate the research findings that are available on crumb rubber and alternative infills, and engage in outreach and discussion with athletes, coaches and families on their preferences for and experiences with synthetic turf fields and different infill.

References

California Environmental Protection Agency Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, “Synthetic Turf Studies,” last modified March 9, 2017, https://oehha.ca.gov/risk-assessment/synthetic-turf-studies.

Gutierrez, Melody, “US to mount multiagency study of health risks of synthetic turf,” San Francisco Chronicle, February 12, 2016, http://www.sfgate.com/nation/article/US-to-mount-multiagency-study-of-health-risks-of-6827632.php

United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Federal Research on Recycle Tire Crumb Used on Playing Fields,” last modified December 30, 2016, https://www.epa.gov/chemical-research/federal-research-recycled-tire-crumb-used-playing-fields.

Typical Composition of Synthetic Turf
Fallon Sports Park, Dublin, California. Designed by Carducci Associates, Constructed in 2010.
Redwood High School, Larkspur, California. Designed by Carducci Associates, Constructed in 2005.
Sir Francis Drake High School, San Anselmo, California. Designed by Carducci Associates, Constructed in 2005.

Site Visit / Community Meeting

Healdsburg High School Modernization / North Bay Business Journal Top Project Award

This month, the North Bay Business Journal recognized the Healdsburg High School Modernization project with a Top Real Estate Projects in the North Bay Award. Carducci Associates worked with Quattrocchi Kwok Architects (QKA) to transform an old wing of the school into an entry plaza and outdoor classroom, which features ADA-accessible and water conserving synthetic turf. Its unique construction process and design detailing are described in our October post here.

In addition, QKA created new classrooms for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), fine and applied arts and culinary arts. Measure E, a 2012 local school bond funding mechanism, financed the project completed in May 1, 2016.

The North Bay Business Journal covers the North San Francisco Bay Area, including Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties. Twenty award-winning projects are described in detail here.

Award