La Jolla projects receive landscape architecture design awards


By Pat Sherman

Two projects in north La Jolla were honored last month by the San Diego chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), as part of the group’s 2012 design awards.

ASLA recognized landscape architect Laura Burnett and the firm of Wallace, Roberts & Todd in the category of Planning and Analysis for the long-proposed Torrey Pines City Park General Development Plan.

The conceptual master plan for the park’s design calls for replacing the existing, rain-rutted dirt parking area north of Torrey Pines Gliderport with clearly marked spaces. A layer of gravel, soil and clay will first be added to smooth the lot, which will be covered by permeable, asphalt-like pavement that allows stormwater to run through it. The vast amount of stormwater running toward the bluff from the UC San Diego campus will be filtered by the underlying layer of soil and gravel, and then channeled to native coastal vegetation that will be planted on the bluff and throughout the park.

Most important, Burnett said, the vegetation will help hold the soil in place, preventing further erosion. According to geotechnical consultants, the bluff could be losing as much as a foot per year from wind and rain, in addition to erosion caused by vehicle traffic, she said.

“Nothing is better than native plant materials to keep that soil from washing and blowing away,” Burnett said. “The roots of the living plant material holds the soil in place.”

The plan will retain the same amount of parking, though spaces will be delineated and organized in a way that allows for replacement of native vegetation, while maximizing parking and existing trails.

“You gain a huge amount of area for habitat restoration just by putting things in an orderly manner,” Burnett said. “It’s a really simple, sort of obvious design.”

The city’s Park and Recreation Board approved the plans last summer. An environmental report on the project was finalized last fall and received no appeals by a Dec. 27 deadline.

However, the city must now locate an estimated $12 million to $15 million to fund the project, Burnett said. “A sizeable donation could really make a huge difference,” Burnett said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for city leaders, as well as community investors, to have a significant presence. ... It seems like a great opportunity for any of those biotech firms (in the area).”

Established in 1899, the 57-acre Torrey Pines City Park (adjacent Salk Institute) is on the national Register of Historic Places for its contributions to the development of wind- powered flight.

President’s Award

The Charles David Keeling Apartments, which opened in fall 2011 at UCSD’s Revelle College, received ASLA’s highest honor, the President’s Award.

The project is named for the late Scripps Institution of Oceanography professor who created the Keeling Curve, which measures the progressive buildup of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

Designed by Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects, the environmentally friendly housing project achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification — the UC system’s first such designation for a residential project.

This 158,000-square-foot, 500-bed dorm was recognized by ASLA as establishing a precedent for sustainability and stormwater management.

The project’s vegetated roof captures stormwater, and is used as a pedestrian walkway between several of its towers.

The dorms include a dual pipe system, which allows shower and sink water to flow to an on-site reclamation facility, where it is filtered for reuse in the facility’s irrigation systems and toilets.

“We have zero water demand for any irrigation on site,” said Martin Poirier, the project’s principal landscape architect. “UCSD challenged us to experiment with the campus, to use the campus as a research tool. We took it to heart, so you’re seeing really cutting edge techniques as far as stormwater capture.”

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