Weekend Work Recovery

Can you believe I posted on my blog again, after 15 months away?

Much has happened since, which you’ll learn in time including my move and recent employment in a different field. Recovering from a tough week at the day job by checking my design practice’s projects, to help issue substantial completion…or not! 2/18/2016 photos, El Paso TX.

Stop #1: Hospitals at Providence, Sierra Campus

That’s quite the renovation by HKS, and I really enjoyed working with them and the renovation contractor JE Dunn Construction. I’ll focus on the good this time, but maybe fill you in on a few items in need of correction, so our plans’ design intent is fulfilled.

My placement of the low garden walls helped provide spatial definition, and I only wish I would have designed them a little higher and to stop pedestrians in more places.

Availability caused some of my speficied plants to be changed…it was native Purple Threeawn and not Gulf Muhly. The yuccas were supposed to be larger, but Yucca elata rockets upward once it establishes, so I’ll stick with that. Overall, the Chihuahuan Desert was respected, even if interpreted quite a bit.

Stop #2: UTEP to Downtown, Hotel Indigo and San Jacinto Plaza area

I’m always up to seeing great designs, evesdropping on others’ designs like that last set, instead of criticizing mine. Though there was little to criticize this leg of the trip. Just inspiration galore.

On a past post, we had to enjoy drinks and excellent tacos on what turned into a sunny, spring-like afternoon. Malolam it was…some good design at the development housing them, among some major site planning screw-ups, which I posted on a while ago.

Stop #3: Hospitals at Providence, Transmountain Campus

This landscape was finished around Thanksgiving, so the various plants like Chaparral Sage, Deergrass, and Beaked Yucca are small. Much was done with a tight budget on a huge site, and I can only commend the architect HKS and the owner Tenet Health.

The general contractor Robins and Morton knows how to run a tight ship, yet with southern hospitality. Much came together with an odd blend of professionalism and stress. One of their field superintendents told me how he’s never seen such a scale of project get done in such a short time.

Our drive home was bound to be good, even if I had to work the rest of the weekend!

Have you enjoyed a day much more because you saw something inspired?

Shrub Shaping 

A recent drive to my trailhead, and Texas Sage / Leucophyllum spp. in bloom.

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roundabout #1 – balls, mushrooms but still flowering

Of course, the public street’s roundabout planting areas are too small for a 6’+ shrub, or such a plant given the need for safety and visibility. (3′-8′ high is the zone many towns require to be clear at intersections)

And the shrubs are under 3′ – by force.

But the usual suspects do it anyway, over and over. Even the city, violating their own rules. Crazy! (at least I try to design appropiately and explain / educate)

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roundabout #2 – a different form, only the trees safe

Now, here’s a private planting of the same shrub on the same street, but left in its natural form, with space to mature.

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a 10′ wide parkway strip

Which form of shrub pruning benefits drivers and pedestrians more? Or the plants?

Little Project, Large Challenge

Many projects become difficult just below the surface.

1423 Missouri is along a busy freeway. A tight infill site, its building renovation and addition will be leased to a few businesses.

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Sideoats Grama and Yaupon Holly mingle

Now, the uncropped view.

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the owner plans to add an advertising bench to this

Once into the design and committed to finish, I was told the owner is also in the billboard and bench ad business. Ugh.

Taking photos to miss the immense amount of visual clutter is nearly impossible, though in the previous photo, I chose an angle that somehow blocked half of what’s really visible. Do advertising people not get that any one sign or billboard is more difficult to read, the more there are?

More another time about the afterthought execution of the landscape installation, or the results of our city codes. Maybe…

But it still came out OK, with blood letting!

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‘Brakelights’ Red Yucca going strong
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Damianita atop both wall edges will bloom once it cools off
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Policeman’s Dalea filling in fast in the top terrace

[Policeman’s Dalea is my favorite name for Dalea capitata ‘Sierra Gold’, and a colorful story]

The railroad cars on tracks behind the freeway are a welcome backdrop.

There were many more obstacles, but you probably get the idea that I don’t get to design much in my practice! Most of my time is lost on unnecessary but unavoidable tasks.

Do you know what goes into landscape design, no matter scale or simplicity?