The West Valley College requsted student submitted ideas and landscape designs for a new Campus Center. My co-designer Tina Juaregui and I had only 2 weeks to create and submit our landscape design representing the Landscape Architecture Student Club. Our objective was to incorporate the functions that surveyed students felt were important as well as streamline with very different existing professionally designed landscapes on either end of the space.
The project called for an amphitheater that could double as an outdoor classroom, provide space for students to eat and socialize, and a space for student club activities. The budget was 1 million dollars but realistically came to $630,000 once contingencies were accounted for. Our objective was to also keep overall maintenance down for the future by decreasing the vast real estate of lawn without appearing to do so.
The amphitheater was situated in a non-functional space that already had a usable slope. We also wanted to take advantage of the central building being reconfigured into a conference room with glass door partition walls that opened fully on the West side and 3/4s on the North and South sides of the structure. Our design incorporates further revenue options for the campus with a design flexible enough to accommodate a range of clients. Seat walls would be pour in place concrete to save costs and the ground covered in a permeable gravel. Some select rows and the front would be done in decomposed granite with a binding agent to allow universal access.
Additionally, students wanted options of playing chess or checkers outdoors, we created a human scale checker/chess board with precasted pavers for one color and the other as existing lawn or a drought resistant ground cover. With additional oaks to create a triangle with one pre-existing and benches, this space could double as a patio for relaxing between classes or meeting friends.
The top most patio near the cafeteria was already designed by Bob Tanaka and included colored 'ribbons' in the hardscape to mimic the flow of water to the campus creek. We continued the major lines into our design and allowed the imagined flow to determine some of the shapes of the hardscape. This space also had one very tall retaining wall which we removed and tiered the space for an aesthetic look of native plantings mixed with drought tolerant plants. On the North, the gallery building has a new design primarily of California natives. However, when installed, the contractor over planted for a more instant look and these plants need to be thinned out. Our design incorporates these same plants in throughout the plant palette to move existing plants from one area into the new campus center which re-uses plants and saves money.
Sketch by Tina
On the Southside of the amphitheater we created a planting bed that incorporated an access ramp. The bed consists of native plants along with Paperbark Maples that will provide shade during warm months and has an interesting year round look with peeling bark.
Photoshop rendition of the tiered planter and water feature area.