News

The Completion of Emerald Glen Park / “The Wave” Aquatics Center Opens Memorial Day Weekend

Carducci Associates has worked on a large variety of project types and scales throughout California. Some of our designs are completed and built within months, while others are implemented in phases over many years. We are excited to announce that we have reached the end of a long journey in the city of Dublin, California: the completion of Emerald Glen Park’s final phase and the grand opening of “The Wave” aquatics complex.

Emerald Glen Park is a 48-acre park in the heart of Dublin, dubbed “The New American Backyard.” Our firm’s team, Principals Bill Fee and Vince Lattanzio, Associate Principals Jin Kim and Jamie Beckman, Senior Associate Alvin Tang, and Associate Lee Streitz (bios here), has had the privilege of designing and overseeing the construction of several parks in the city, including the last three of Emerald Glen Park’s four phases.

Phase Two (2001-2004) introduced a grand entry with a dramatic water feature, welcome plaza, and centerpiece for public art. A new connection on the southern edge invited Dublin residents and visitors to their new park.

The park expanded during Phase Three (2003-2006), where we designed and directed the construction of group picnic areas, a children’s playground, restroom facilities, a cricket pitch, and two large soccer fields. Upon completion of this phase, two-thirds of the park transformed into public open space. The park began to come alive as the community embraced the park and made use of every corner.

When funding became available, the City once again hired Carducci Associates to design the final phase of the park’s master plan: the central plaza, amphitheater, and outdoor aquatic recreation facility. Our partner, Dahlin Group, served as the prime-architect to oversee the project and design the iconic wave-shaped community building and natatorium. Our other design partner, The Aquatic Design Group, provided expertise in the development of pools, slides and water-play throughout the site.

The result of the team’s collaboration was the “The Wave” at Emerald Glen Park, a boardwalk-inspired, public aquatics center that spans 31,000 square-feet of park space. The $43M facility accommodates 1,400 people and features three pools, six water slides and a children’s play pool. In addition to water play, the picnic areas, group cabanas, fire-pits, and outdoor ping-pong tables create a place one can visit often and experience something new each time.

A project of this scale is not completed overnight; we began preliminary designs for the final phase over four years ago. Pencil sketches turned into hand-rendered drawings, which then were revised and massaged using computer aided drafting and 3D modeling. After many years of design, followed by over a year of construction administration, The Wave had its official ribbon-cutting ceremony last week and will open to the public on Memorial Day Weekend. Grab your swimsuit and come ride The Wave in Dublin, CA, Carducci Associates’ latest built project.

View the project page here.

View from the top of one of The Wave's new water slides.

Site Visit / Event

Alameda High School Breaks Ground

Occasionally, we get the opportunity to work on a project that is interesting not only for its site conditions and context, but also for its highly personal connection to our own history. Philip Dinh, Associate, who attended Alameda High School, says, “This was a place that I spent four of my favorite years, attending classes [and] creating memories with friends. Not many people get to say they were part of a team to help redesign their high school, and I am proud to be able to say that!”

Carducci Associates is part of the team, working with project architect Quattrocchi Kwok Architects, that is restoring Alameda High School’s 1924 neoclassical campus to its former glory. Renovations to this registered Historic Landmark will deftly weave 21st century classrooms into the fabric of this remarkable building. At the April 24th ground breaking ceremony, Carducci Associates was recognized by Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer, and Alameda Unified School District Superintendent Sean McPhetridge, for our work in designing improvements consistent with both the historic site and future-forward sustainability goals of the state, city, and district.

Philip and Wesley Bexton, Associate Principal, (bios here) coordinated work with the district, architectural team, the City of Alameda, and East Bay Municipal Utility District (commonly known as East Bay MUD) to modernize the landscaped frontage, and maintain the historic character of the site, in full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and with the State of California’s new Division of the State Architect (DSA) irrigation efficiency requirements.

April 24, 2017. Carducci Associates' Philip Dinh and Wesley Bexton attend Alameda High School's Ground Breaking Ceremony.
The earthquake barrier dismantling begins.
Project architect QKA provides a rendering of the neoclassical campus renovation.

Site Visit / On the Boards / Event

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 / Basalt and Ice in a Drought-Tolerant Landscape

The recent modernization of Healdsburg High School illustrates design and construction ingenuity in drought-tolerant, accessible and educational landscapes. QKA, the architects, retained Carducci Associates to collaborate on a renovation of the school’s interior and exterior architecture, infrastructure and landscape. Carducci’s focus on Phase 2 saw the radical demolition of several building wings transform the school’s drop-off area into a sweeping plaza.

With an opportunity of this magnitude, Principal Vince Lattanzio and Senior Associate Tim Skinner (bios here) proposed a grand yet simple gesture. The administration desired an outdoor classroom with seating and gathering opportunities. As a response, the formal orchard layout of fruitless olive trees reflects the surrounding agricultural land of Sonoma County and blends harmoniously with the open plaza concept. Large freeform areas of synthetic turf soften the space and, along with neutral concrete paving, provide universal access to the entire plaza and outdoor classroom. The synthetic turf is also desirable from an educational program and maintenance perspective: it does not require irrigation or air- and noise-polluting mowers.

Basalt stone provides a sophisticated and natural seating opportunity, which creates a unique atmosphere at half the cost of cast-in-place concrete benches. The basalt sits directly on the synthetic turf, which has a deepened aggregate base to displace the weight and avoid expensive footings. The contractor had an ingenious method for craning the pieces into place and extracting their sling from under the stone without tearing the turf: ice. The crane set each piece of basalt in a super-elevated position on ice, and then removed the sling. As the ice melted, the stones eventually came to sit in their permanent spot. The students and staff alike fondly refer to the plaza as ‘their Stonehenge’.

Site Visit