News

Brownell Middle School / Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Carducci Associates is thrilled to have been part of the Brownell Middle School campus replacement project for Gilroy Unified School District, which culminated 3 years of hard work when the school was officially opened to the public on August 12. Although Carducci Associates has been working alongside Aedis Architects and Flint Builders since 2018 on this site, Brownell has been a part of the Gilroy community since 1949, when it opened its doors to seventh and eighth graders. Few alterations were made to the original campus since its initial construction, and Carducci Associates is proud to be part of the newest chapter at Brownell. Measure E, passed by Gilroy voters, made the campus replacement possible; clever management by the design team, the GUSD facilities team, and contractor meant Brownell was reconstructed with all the elements that the District deemed vital to a 21st century learning environment.

In designing the site, Carducci balanced outdoor spaces for play, gathering, and teaching. Prior to the pandemic, the design team emphasized carving out ample space for outdoor learning in a variety of settings, including semi-circular concrete seat walls surrounding central areas for instruction, to less formal decomposed granite pathways with boulder seats in a grove of newly planted oaks. Carducci also designed courtyards inside classroom pods with ample boulder seating surrounding Shade loving greenery and wide concrete patios outside maker space garage doors. The patios will enable students to spill out from maker spaces to tinker and collaborate. Carducci is pleased that these spaces are in place and will play a crucial role of keeping students and staff safer, while enriching student learning opportunities.

In addition to the instruction-centric outdoor spaces, Carducci designed what has now been dubbed the “pollination station” packed with nectar-rich pollinator-friendly shrubs and grasses adjacent to a flexible, outdoor space for a student garden. New fruit trees provide a backdrop for a space that may be adapted for growing food or conducting science experiments that can be aided by an outdoor power pedestal intended to make this garden area as adaptable as possible for the school’s specific future needs. In addition to these upgrades, Carducci also designed a river-themed coated asphalt pattern in the central campus that reinforces biophilic themes while reflecting solar radiation to keep students and staff cool in hot Gilroy weather. Brownell also benefits from entirely new natural turf playing fields with more efficient, modern irrigation. The fields have been sited adjacent to the updated gymnasium and newly striped sports courts, away from classrooms to minimize disruption. Finally, in a nod to the community that made the modernization possible, long-lived native Valley Oaks flank the edges of the campus to provide shade along Carmel and 3rd Streets, in order to extend improvements beyond the campus.

Video credits: B43Productions

Image Credits: Flint Builders

Press Release / Event

2020 ASLA Student Awards / Karishma Joshi & Xiaoyu (Nikki) Zheng

We are very excited to share that our very own Associate Karishma Joshi has been awarded the ASLA Student Honor Award in Analysis & Planning and our intern Xiaoyu (Nikki) Zheng has also been awarded the ASLA Student Award of Excellence in Urban Design. Below are some highlights of their projects and associated links to learn more about each of them.


2020 ASLA Student Award: Award of Excellence: Urban Design

Project Name: Rethinking a Fundamental Human Act: Landscape as a Solution for Open Defecation

Project Summary: In “Rethinking a Fundamental Human Act: Landscape as a Solution for Open Defecation” Kate and Nikki proposed design solutions based on a theoretical framework highlighting causes, conditions, and effects of open defecation. In the context of Raipur, India, there are few spaces of conscious design intervention that provide both practical and aesthetic value. The team came up with alternative built-environment solutions that respect local cultural behavior and human dignity to tackle this pressing world issue.

Contributors: Kate Noel, Xiaoyu (Nikki) Zheng

For more information about this award winning project, click here: https://www.asla.org/2020studentawards/1283.html


2020 ASLA Student Award: Honor Award: Analysis and Planning

Project Name: Tenacity—Integrating Sea Level Rise and Urban Growth Prediction Modelling in Design Scenarios in Tampa, Florida

Project Summary: Tampa, Florida is expected to grow considerably over the next decades, yet is one of the most vulnerable U.S. cities for flooding. Simply continuing on the present course,or even in line with current planned growth, will do little to mitigate flood risk, but informed development that incorporates resilient tactics will ensure long-term resilience in uncertain climate scenarios. This study analyzes three possible development strategies, and recommends one that could mitigate the impact of sea-level rise.

Contributors: Karishma Joshi & Jiali Liu For more information about this award winning project, click here: https://www.asla.org/2020studentawards/1185.html

Rethinking a Fundamental Human Act: Landscape as a Solution for Open Defecation (Images above)
Tenacity - Integrating Sea Level Rise and Urban Growth Prediction Modelling in Design Scenarios in Tampa, Florida (Images above)

Press Release / Award

Looking Ahead / Outdoor Learning

COVID-19 has accelerated the dialogue about leveraging outdoor learning environments for school districts in California. Carducci Associates, with our extensive DSA approved landscape experience, has been assisting clients to strategize and implement solutions quickly and easily to create safer spaces for the upcoming year, and also to envision the potential for maximizing outdoor learning (post-pandemic). California’s temperate and mild climate often provides ideal conditions for outdoor-education activities for much of the year. In light of the recent pandemic, which requires physical distancing and increased air-circulation to lessen the chance of transmission among students, the outdoor classroom has become an optimal setting and option to accommodate – and allow for a greater number of– students returning in the fall.


UTILIZING THE OUTDOORS AS AN ASSET:

Outdoor spaces offer an economical way to alleviate the spatial constraints of the pandemic on indoor classrooms while also providing: hands-on learning, fresh air, and opportunities for children to connect with the natural environment. Below are some of the lessons we have learned from educators and designers who have already brainstormed and navigated this process. Following these lessons are additional resources to guide community members to understand the strategies shared and also to re-imagine how to see these constraints as growth opportunities for the future of education in California.


LESSONS LEARNED:

1. Understand that enhancing the connection to nature improves student/faculty health and well-being

2. Engaging school grounds and local parks as outdoor classrooms to expand the capacity for students

3. Creating Cohorts to discuss (weekly) research

4. Provide flexibility and choice: Consider a variety of seating in varied layouts

5. Understand whether strategy/implementation is a short-term transition or a long-term investment

6. Take initiative, pilot, evaluate, implement

7. Engage students in the problem-solving process

8. Develop a phased approach to reopening

9. Create an outdoor, bookable meeting-space system (e.g. Stanchion off an area for reserved meetings on campus and provide signage that can be updated with the current user(s) name and duration of use)

10. Discern “higher-usage” areas on campus and provide supplemental outdoor structures to accommodate these densities

11. Improve micro-climate or consider climatic variables to lengthen (maximize) the usage of outdoor spaces in the shoulder seasons (e.g. equip shade structures with heating, cooling or lighting, provide windbreaks, consider acoustics and how to reduce noise to other outdoor classrooms, consider sun movement, temporary and/or permanent DSA-PC approved shade sails, sun umbrellas, etc.)

12. Address infrastructural needs: potential utilities and accessibility needs that will need to be considered when people congregate in different places on campus/school grounds (Wi-Fi, emergency systems, blue lights-visibility accessibility, power charging, increased hand washing stations, etc.)

13. Consider developing zones, especially on larger school campuses, that prioritize access to different user groups (students, faculty, visitors, other community members, etc.)

14. Develop toolkits and resources to educate the school community (provide adequate signage in a variety of sizes, distribute outdoor space guidelines for the diverse types of public spaces on campus, etc.)

15. Consider low-cost, temporary materials to create outdoor classroom spaces

16. Organize outdoor pop-up activities to support student life and foster community (outdoor games, dining, art, etc.)

17. Consider having areas and spaces for both formal (classes, seminars) and informal/casual activities (clubs)

18. Security is paramount, consider ways to restrict access to grounds to ensure safety

19. Consider funding from CARES ACT for educational work and American Association of Dermatology grants for shade

20. For equity make outdoor learning a priority and online learning a back up


RESOURCES:

1) National COVID 19 Outdoor Learning Initiative: Essential Assets for School District COVID-19 Response

2) The Outdoor Classroom Project: Characteristics of the outdoor classroom and information regarding the physical, cognitive, psychological benefits of outdoor learning

3) COVID-19 Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Reentry

4) Planning Outdoor Infrastructure at your School (Free Downloadable Resources)

5) San Francisco Children & Nature: a San Francisco collaborative dedicated to ensuring all youth growing up in the city have the same opportunities to PLAY, LEARN and GROW in NATURE.

6) Emergency Schoolyard Design Volunteers: a new program dedicated to match schools and districts with volunteer design teams to help plan and lay out outdoor classrooms. Click here to sign up for design assistance. Designers click here to sign up to assist schools.

7) Fast Company: “Inside the Quest to Reopen Schools—by Moving Classes Outside”

8)The Atlantic: “Why Can’t We Have Class Outside? It might be the answer to America’s school-reopening problem”

9) PBS Newshour Weekend: “A California Collective Makes the Case for Outdoor Learning” (video)

10) Adapting College and University Campus Outdoor Spaces in Response to COVID-19 (ASLA Professional Practice Webinar) (video)

Press Release

John Hinkel Park / Grand Opening

When the beautiful historic clubhouse of John Hinkel Park burned down in 2015, neighbors and Berkeley city staff came together to discuss the future of the park and its users. Built in 1918, the redwood clubhouse structure served its purpose for 73 years, officially closing its doors in 1991 due to the estimated $1-2 million-dollar repair costs to restore it to habitability. After the 2015 fire, the city (Berkeley) was able to receive insurance money, which planted the seed of innovation. At the same time, this allowed John Hinkel Park – like a Phoenix – “to rise from the ashes,” and reinvigorate the experience of the park that embodies the cultural and architectural history of Berkeley at the turn of the 20th century.

Toward the end of 2015, Carducci Associates and diverse stakeholders – including city staff, Council Members, and invested neighbors – collaborated to envision a new chapter for John Hinkel Park. Over five years, after multiple community meetings and the approval of the Landmark Commission, the community decided to replace the clubhouse with enhanced site access, ADA improvements, unique site furnishings and a picnic terrace that would maintain the park’s natural aesthetic while celebrating the past that John Hinkel himself gave to the neighborhood.

Carducci Associates leveraged the park’s history through the use of salvaged materials from the clubhouse, such as wood and stone, and designed custom features that highlight the park’s past for present and future users. Some of these features include rock walls, rock and wood benches, and picnic tables topped with 100-year-old salvaged redwood to preserve the memory of the clubhouse’s original location. If one were to examine the picnic tables, one can see the chars and scars of the blaze that paved the way for the park’s renewal.

Finally, after years of waiting, Carducci Associates is honored and excited to say that John Hinkel Park can once again serve as a space where neighbors and friends can gather to make new memories. After the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony (July 31, 2020), visitors practiced social distancing while enjoying the renewed park. There were plenty of smiles that even face coverings could not mask.

Thank you to the City of Berkeley, the Landmark Commission, and the John Hinkel Park community for entrusting this special project to Carducci Associates. May John Hinkel Park continue to flourish in all of its cultural and natural beauty.

Community Meeting
Newly Renovated Picnic Terrace
Newly Renovated Picnic Terrace
Socially Distanced Ribbon Cutting Ceremony (July 31, 2020)

Press Release / Community Meeting / Event