News

Let there be plants! / Conrad Square gets a refresh

Intended as a short-term beautification and improvement to Joseph Conrad Square in San Francisco’s North Beach/Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, Carducci Associates’ landscape plan preserves existing trees and introduces a low growing and varied plant palette designed to draw and welcome visitors in all seasons.

The low growing planting and improved landscape lighting – two basic principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) – were incorporated in response to the community’s ongoing concerns regarding criminal activity in the space. These elements will help to increase visibility and surveillance, thus making it a safer place to occupy throughout the day, and night.

On January 17th, the first phase of Conrad Square was completed in collaboration with the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District and the SF Rec & Parks. (The SF Rec & Parks Dept. obtained the plant materials, compost, and the mulch; it used 20 gardeners to install the planting in one day.) The first phase included: clearing previous planting that might have encouraged unwanted activity. In turn, this allowed the new succulent and drought-tolerant garden to take root on-site. Check out the new plants if you’re in the area!

More information about our project is available here.

Site Visit / On the Boards

Combining Infrastructure and Place-Making in Civic Space / Friends of Five Creeks Features El Cerrito City Hall Design

This month’s atmospheric river in Northern California is an apt backdrop for the San Francisco Bay Area blog Blue-Green Building: Building Cities that Protect Streams, Bay, and Ocean feature on Carducci Associates’ El Cerrito City Hall. The civic space highlights the ability of landscape architecture to create ecological and hydrological systems as stormwater management infrastructure that also contributes to a sense of place and regional identity.

El Cerrito City Hall, built in 2010, consists of a LEED-certified building and landscape that are designed to complement each other. Recycled building and site run-off irrigate the California native plant demonstration garden and drought-tolerant plantings. Custom furnishings include a fountain inspired by the journey of water that travels from the Sierra Nevada to the Pacific Ocean.

The full article can be read here, and more information about our project is available here.

Blue-Green Building is written by Friends of Five Creeks, “an all-volunteer creek- and watershed-restoration group working in North Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, and south El Cerrito, and Richmond, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties” in California.

Carducci Associates' custom seating and fountain accompany a native, drought-tolerant, and educational civic space.

Site Visit

Celebrating the Grand Opening! / Fallon Sports Complex Phase 2

The City of Dublin celebrated the Grand Opening of Fallon Sports Complex Phase 2 on March 24 during on and off rain showers. The $14 million development, which began in 2013, includes: a 90’ lighted natural turf baseball diamond, two lighted synthetic turf soccer fields, a shaded group picnic and BBQ area, four lighted bocce ball courts, an adventure playground, and custom furnishings throughout. Children immediately gravitated to the playground this first day.

Although the baseball game was rained out, the rain of course contributes positively to the new phase in other ways. Vegetation will grow to provide aesthetic, ecological, and hydrological features to the sports complex. Bio-basins are planted with over a dozen species of native plants, and include educational signage about the role of a bio-basin in the water cycle, and the pollinators and bloom periods associated with specific native plants.

In just a few months since plant installation, some ornamental grasses, especially Muhlenbergia rigens (Deergrass) and Deschampsia cespitosa (Tufted Hairgrass), already provide significant volume to the new park features. These spaces will continue to fill in adjacent to the picnic and play areas, and at the base of the artist Heath Satow’s “Elatus,” the park’s iconic 32’ tall stainless steel statue.

Carducci Associates has designed a sports complex that includes the thoughtfully-constructed wildness of a true park. On a recent walk through Fallon’s Phase 1, where our office’s planting design has had 10 years to grow in, this unique pairing of landscapes has matured. Baccharis pilularis, Salix lasiolepis, Platanus racemosa and Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’ shade and frame the enduring brightness of synthetic turf, the sharp geometry of adjacent basketball courts, and running paths. The playful contrast between maintenance and wildness, synthetic and natural, continues in Phase 2. Concentric mow pattern rings a baseball pitcher’s mound that echoes Dublin’s hills visible in the distance.

Instances of this balance will increase as the park ages. The third and final phase will complete the picture our office has been involved with since the development of master plan beginning in 2004. The final phase of the 60 acre park will introduce two additional Little League baseball fields, two additional softball fields, additional group picnic and play areas, and the completion of the BMX facility. Fallon Sports Complex provides an intriguing case study for the ability of a traditionally highly maintained and synthetic sports complex to provide an ecological and hydrological partner to broader development patterns taking shape throughout the City of Dublin.

Finishing touches on the placement of home plate
Phase 2 soccer fields
Pitcher's Mound and the Dublin Hills
Sunlight catches the warm fray of Deschampsia cespitosa in the forground, and the sharper, taller Muhlenbergia rigens in the background.
Grand Opening visitors learn about pollinators and their habitat, such as the bio-basin constructed in the background.
The biobasins invite a broad family of pollinators to the sports complex.
New adventure playground!
California Buckeye, 10 years after its planting, in Phase 1
Native sages, coyote brush, redbud, and buckeye begin another year of spring growth in Phase 1
The BMX course will be completed in Phase 3.

Site Visit / Event

Site Construction at Gilman Field / Notes and Images

After months or years of digital abstraction, witnessing a material’s properties in person is a wonderful learning opportunity built into the design and construction process.

The Tom Bates Regional Sports Complex in Berkeley, California – locally known as Gilman Fields – is undergoing a much-needed renovation of its two multi-use synthetic turf fields. Few materials laid out over acres creates a simple demonstration of a material’s interaction with local conditions.

Building this knowledge can contribute to a better landscape practice and landscape performance.

For example, synthetic turf carpet shrinks and expands in response to temperature. In the early morning of a worker’s day, the synthetic turf carpet is rolled out across the field. As the sun passes overhead, the carpet heats and expands. This produces subtle ripples across the field. Night temperatures dip into the 30’s and the carpet tightens again.

Thoughtful timing saves resources. Expansion and tightening would continue if it weren’t for sand infill working as a ballast and nails. In the early morning, sand infill is added on top of the carpet at its tightest. The carpet is nailed at its most expanded in afternoon heat.

Below are images from the past two months of construction.

The field's old synthetic turf rolled up for recycling.
A percolation test studies the quality of site drainage.
Installation of striping material.
Striping almost complete.
In contrast, a worn goal post shows years of play.
Natural grass and synthetic turf neighbors.

Site Visit