What’s Wrong?

In my field, we may have to rush designs for reasons beyond our control.

And issues crucial to having the best possible project are not addressed, such as site planning, or grading and drainage, affecting the user experience, costs, plant health and aesthetic. We can always try to execute better as a team the next time, but it’s easier to do it the first time.

Back to El Paso’s Sierra Providence East Hospital from my last post, photos also from 12/10/2008.

So, what’s wrong? –

1) the pedestrian sidewalk connection to the street, added shortly after construction…no safe, direct crosswalk to parking, plantings now don’t work, though this does connect under the cover to the front doors…

2) drainage channels were added after landscape design was finished…run-off water doesn’t serve plantings like it could, though planting design coordinated with passive water harvesting would be different species tolerant of flooding (don’t laugh, it can really rain in late summer!)…and many use these channels as a sidewalk, not the intention…unsafe, and it lacks a crosswalk to the parking………….
…and pedestrians using each drainage channel on the 360 days each year there’s no water in them, must step over a drainage grate at the sidewalk…unsafe………
3) the young, staked Sweet Acacia / Acacia farnesiana proved to not be hardy outside the lower, inner parts of town in extreme freeze events…it hit -5F in that part of town, I was told…the trees either froze to their roots, or they died

5 Replies to “What’s Wrong?”

  1. Thanks for the rainwater harvesting link. We’ve been using rain barrels for years now and are currently working with swales and grading to redirect runoff (IF we get any…). Too bad about the acacia – I hate losing trees!

    You’re welcome; I like passive RWH and Brad Lancaster’s whole low-tech, low cost approach in that. And water harvesting…imagine how much that building roof or site paving could generate in irrigation…


  2. Too bad those drainage channels couldn’t be disguised with cobblestone/river rock to make them look a little more natural, but pedestrians trying to walk over stones would be even worse!

    I hear you, though that would be a nice visual touch.


  3. Interesting post mortem David. I’m interested in passive water conservation when we do our next landscape.

    Definitely – a good place to start is:
    Free info and links, until you take the plunge and buy the book. One can adapt his plant lists from Tucson to your area.

    Though, you do have those passive / active water harvesting features of the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone to contend with, or work around – rock.


  4. David, what is the function of this building? Bob M

    Oops, just added that it’s a hospital (and the public entry).

    It was in the previous post, and some past posts on the old Desert Edge blog…if only my search box would work again on Blogger… Thanks for commenting, next big town to my west!


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