experience the Garden of the senses

Brian Laverriere, Project Designer

Brian Laverriere provides landscape and graphic design services for a variety of private and public entities. He has worked on projects that include ecological restoration, campus/landscape master plans and design guidelines for conservation land, LID stormwater practices for both roadway and parking facilities, streetscape improvements, community centers and residential gardens.

Imagine traversing the new gardens with the sweet fragrance of Clethra in the air, feeling native ferns as you pass by, chewing on a delicious treat from the Magnolia Café with Chickadees chirping in the trees, all while you’re watching bees buzz around the McGraw Family Garden of the Senses. Come experience complete relaxation and evoke your emotions at the new sensory garden!

Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, Massachusetts is a beautiful place. The grounds have so much to offer, yet there has always been a problem of universal access.  If you’ve ever been to Heritage – after the Magnolia Café – on your right-hand side – there’s a challenging hillside. Dangerous even for the able-bodied. Some families had to regrettably turn back, being restricted to only a portion of the elaborate gardens. As designers for the McGraw Family Garden of the Senses, we set our goal of solving the problem of universal access.

 

Collaborating with our design partners, we proudly looped in new and old areas of the gardens once unobtainable for many. Today, every patron of Heritage has equal opportunity to safely reach the bottom of that steep slope. Although providing access was our top priority, improving public safety was one of many results as shuttle traffic is now separate from the primary pedestrian flow-path.

We worked with  DirtWorks to align the proposed pathway for full ADA compliance. In doing so, we brought the Hart Maze more into the fold and have tried to engage users across a Black Locust boardwalk built by Henry Ellis Construction. Smooth Black Locust handrails were specifically detailed by DirtWorks to help extend one’s hand to combat arthritis. Happily living underneath the boardwalk are two lush rain gardens which collect stormwater runoff, representing just two of the many therapeutic/educational elements you’ll find at the new sensory garden.

The focal point is the Garden of Hope, where two naturalistic water features bubble in the plaza. Thanks to Baystate Aquascapes, one of the water-features is equipped with a flowing channel that can be touched at chair height. Both stone sculptures seamlessly blend into the natural scenery. Overhead, a magnificent Dawn Redwood stands strong. The design meanders the plaza as to avoid disturbance within the tree’s dripline. Thanks to the McNamara Brothers, serpentine stonewalls consistent with the water-features retain the high-slope.

From all of us at the Horsley Witten Group, we’re thrilled to have played a part in this project, and look forward to watching the gardens grow!


Photography:
Dan Cutrona Photography

Visit the Garden of the Senses:
Heritage Museums and Gardens

Project Partners:
Dirtworks, Landscape Architecture
Henry Ellis Construction
McNamara Brothers Landscaping
Baystate Aquascapes
Robert B. Our Company, Inc.
Heritage Museums & Gardens Staff

Helping Small Islands Think Big

From RI to the Northern Mariana Islands

In August, Senior Watershed Planner Anne Kitchell, Senior Planner Craig Pereira and Senior Environmental Engineer Gemma Kite traveled to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to conduct field work and public outreach meetings to help develop the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).

Our Marketing Director sat down recently with these lucky travelers to learn more about the plan and the beautiful islands of CNMI.

 

First things first, what is a SCORP?

A SCORP is the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan and according to American Trails, this plan serves as a guide for all public outdoor recreation in urban and rural neighborhoods, cities, and regions for a given state. Each state must prepare a SCORP every five years to be eligible for funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. At HW we have worked on major SCORP plans for Rhode Island and CNMI.

 

What are the basic facts of this assignment?

CNMI is located several thousand miles from New England, just north of Guam and about an eight-hour flight from Hawaii. The island came under U.S. control during World War II and became an official Commonwealth in 1975. For this project, HW is working with the Office of the Governor – Office of Grants Management and State Clearing House to develop their SCORP. This program is a valuable source of support for protecting resources and providing facilities for public recreational use. HW teamed with Koa Consulting, an environmental consulting group based on Saipan, to conduct the site inventory, meet with local stakeholders, and conduct public outreach workshops.

 

What did you do while you were there?

During one week on island, Craig and Gemma traveled to Saipan, Rota, and Tinian, inventoried 120 open space and recreation sites, conducted four public workshops, met with the Advisory Committee twice, and spoke with dozens of residents. These workshops and informal discussions with the public focused on what is working well, what could be improved, and what is needed for recreation opportunities. The people on the islands were welcoming and really appreciated our help.  

Craig and Gemma inventoried beaches, children’s parks, basketball courts, cultural sites, and historical sites. Gemma especially enjoyed the archaeological site called House of Taga on Tinian, where one can explore the legends of Chief Taga by viewing the largest known erected latte stone pillars. Craig enjoyed the tranquility and scenic overlook at the Bird Sanctuary on Rota. Both appreciated the opportunity to experience every recreation space on all three islands. *Not a bad assignment, according to our staff here in Sandwich, MA!

 

Looking ahead, what is next?

The residents continue to be very engaged in the process. Our team captured a diverse range of ideas and input, as public workshops were busy and very well attended. The project website www.cnmi-scorp.com maintains a link to a public opinion survey, where residents and tourists can provide feedback on their favorite recreation sites, ideas for improving current sites and creating new opportunities. Preliminary feedback suggests that residents would like to see the following: multi-purpose sites where children to adults have opportunities to recreate in the same space; improved maintenance of sites; and recreation opportunities geographically dispersed so that people do not have to travel far to enjoy public spaces.

HW has been working in the Pacific region for over a decade on stormwater management, watershed and marine area planning, and sustainable development. In fact, we are kicking off two new watershed planning projects in the CNMI this month.  

 As a subcontractor to Weston & Sampson, HW designed and executed the statewide public process for Rhode Island’s SCORP, and was excited to start again in an entirely new place that couldn’t be more different physically and culturally. HW will be working with the SCORP Advisory Committee in CNMI over the next few months to continue engagement and finalize the plan.

 

three cheers for zoning!

Groton, CT Adopts New Zoning

HW staff are thrilled to hear that Groton, CT adopted new Zoning Regulations and an updated Zoning Map this summer. This initiative included 4+ years of intensive work, research, writing, and  meetings with Town staff, the Zoning Commission, and local stakeholders. The initial revisions focused on the Water Resources Protection District which featured a streamlined “performance-based” permit approach that works closely with the water utility.

We supported the Town in a complete regulatory review of the existing zoning regulations. Zoning can be complicated and difficult for various audiences to understand, so we wanted to help clarify and update the regulations. The team’s goal was to develop zoning that would help implement the high-quality, vibrant, and sustainable development envisioned in the Town’s 2016 Plan of Conservation and Development, and to make the regulations clear, precise, and easy to understand. Our planners and support staff provided expertise for the Town in zoning, urban design, graphic design, and community engagement throughout the process.

This process included many iterations of the regulations, particularly over the past 18 months, as details emerged. A collaborative process from start to finish ─ the final document embodies the spirit of the input received and the hard work applied by the entire team. This was evident in the positive comments heard during the public hearing process, as well as the final adjustments made in response to helpful critiques from the community participants. We hope these new regulations serve the Town of Groton well for years to come. Visit the Project Website.

 

 

Chattanooga, TN

Horsley Witten Group is collaborating as part of a team led by Dover, Kohl and Partners and others to develop a Master Land Use Plan for Chattanooga’s West End. Comparable in size to other well-loved urban places such as Boston’s Back Bay or downtown Savannah, Georgia, the West End consists of 95 acres of industrial-oriented land with over ¾ mile of frontage on the Tennessee River.

A truly interdisciplinary effort, the team analyzed the site’s existing conditions and context in great detail, and used this information to conceptualize a unique, new neighborhood. This project considered all levels of site design; from historical context, to environmental and stormwater integration, to human interaction and placemaking.  The result is a vision for a one of a kind place that reuses old steel structures, provides a car-optional mobility network, and utilizes stormwater as a public amenity in the form of a central canal. HW staff led infrastructure design and public realm elements of the plan.

 

More information:

Learn about  the project , view designs, and a brief project video (6min) here.

 

Project Team:

Dover, Kohl & Partners
VHB Engineering 
Hall Planning & Engineering
Partners for Economic Solutions

 

West End Concept plan

Dover, Kohl & Partners

 

stormwater Master plan

 Sewanee – The University of the South

Sewanee: the University of the South owns more than 13,000 acres called the Domain located on the Cumberland Plateau, more than 90 percent of which consists of Southern Appalachian forest. This is among the most diverse forest types in the United States and one of the largest unbroken expanses of hardwood-forested plateaus in the world. As an academic institution devoted to learning and knowledge, the University has committed to act as a model of environmental sustainability – including stewardship of natural areas, promotion of environmentally sensitive landscaping practices, and use of Smart Growth land use planning techniques as described in detail in the University’s 2013 Sustainability Master Plan.

Sewanee Village currently consists of a retail and office strip on University Avenue connecting the University campus to US Route 41A. The Village has been designated by the University as one of three future development focus areas in the Campus Master Plan, also including the Core Campus and the School of Theology. The University envisions redevelopment of Sewanee Village as a mixed-use, walkable, vibrant place, with better connections to the Core Campus. The Village Implementation Plan, completed by Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative (TPUDC) in 2016, produced a design framework for the Village Core.

The 2016 Sewanee Village Implementation Plan builds upon the Sewanee Vision Plan and the Sewanee Action Plan and provides specific planning interventions and strategies to guide redevelopment of the Village and the greater Domain. The goal of this Plan is to enhance connections between the University of the South and the Sewanee Village, and to ensure the long-term viability of the Village by creating a mixed-use environment that integrates new businesses, civic spaces, and housing into the existing Village fabric. The Implementation Plan seeks to make the Sewanee Village a regional model for sustainable redevelopment.

The directive of this project is to evolve the 2016 Village Implementation Plan to the next level of detail, melding a more detailed assessment of on-the-ground existing conditions with the University’s sustainability principles as well as the vision for Sewanee Village as a vibrant, mixed-use center. The University convened a stakeholder group including TPUDC, University subject matter experts, and local business owners to provide input and guide the project throughout.

 

Guiding Principles

The University and stakeholder group collaborated to develop the following guiding principles as an overarching framework for evolution of the Village Implementation Plan:

 

Filter + Store

To mitigate the effects of additional runoff resulting from proposed development, demonstrate the application of Light Imprint site planning techniques and green infrastructure BMPs to naturally filter, infiltrate, and store runoff.

 

Balance

Provide a range of land planning and stormwater solutions calibrated to the Domain’s natural context, “softer edge” aesthetic to artfully compliment the urban design vision for Sewanee Village.

 

Beautify

Artfully incorporate environmental design into Sewanee Village respecting the area’s built and natural character. Utilize green stormwater infrastructure as placemaking elements and educational amenities.

 

Innovate

Encourage implementation of highly visible, forward-thinking approaches as a demonstration of the University’s commitment to sustainability and learning.

 

Be Realistic

Demonstrate realistic, cost-effective, and constructible nature-based solutions with a focus on long-term maintenance requirements.

 

RI State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan

In late 2018, HW Planner, Craig Pereira took on the role of managing public engagement for the RI Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (known as “the SCORP”). Our friends at Weston & Sampson invited us to design and deliver the public process. Time was short and Craig needed to cover the entire state. The logistics were daunting to say the least. Between October and January, Craig managed to convene 11 public focus group meetings, all in separate locations, featuring a dozen different recreation topics. He also deployed a map survey tool that has collected responses statewide. 

The 2019 SCORP will outline the existing status, current needs, and future vision for outdoor recreation. It will include public input from the growing and changing population and will set concrete goals and strategies for improvements and additions to the state’s infrastructure, programming, and resources. Check out our progress to date and, if you enjoy the outdoors in Rhode Island (regardless of where you’re from) feel free to fill out the survey!

 Another survey is on the way, and will mark the final push for public input before the plan is drafted.

 

 

grant program

Update

The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) grant program provides support for cities and towns in Massachusetts to begin the process of planning for climate change resiliency and implementing priority projects. The state awards communities with funding to complete vulnerability assessments and develop action-oriented resiliency plans. Communities who complete the MVP program become certified as an MVP community and are eligible for MVP Action grant funding and other opportunities.

We are certified & ready to assist your community with:

  • Characterizing Hazards
  • Identifying Community Vulnerabilities and Strengths
  • Facilitating a Vibrant Stakeholder Workshop to Identify and Prioritize Community Actions

We have helped Brewster, Kingston, Newbury, Newburyport, Peabody, Tisbury, and Shrewsbury, MA to achieve their MVP designations and identify projects that qualify for future MVP action grants. To date, our work has helped our clients leverage over $900k in Action Grant funding.

Questions? Contact one of our MVP Certified Staff  for help with the grant process.

Ellie Baker

Will Keefer

Craig Pereira

View the Planning Grant .

Photo: Joe Teixeira