The New Mexico Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (NMASLA) recognized six landscape and planning projects designed by D/P/S, two of which received the top Honor Award in their respective categories: The Imperial Building and Alameda Drain Trail. In addition, the Rust Medical Center Healing Gardens, Arrowhead Park Master Plan, Las Cruces Centennial High School, and CNM Wellness Path all earned Merit Awards.
We had a great time celebrating these successes with our clients and taking time to learn about the many important landscape and planning projects that are contributing to our communities.
NMASLA Honor Awards
NMASLA Merit Awards
The Imperial Building is part of a community-wide commitment to revitalize downtown. The mixed-use development includes three levels of affordable housing, an underground parking basement, ground-level retail spaces, and a locally-owned grocery store that alleviates the neighborhood's food desert designation. In addition, the Imperial Building has a rooftop garden that gives residents the opportunity to grow their own vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers in an urban environment. The rooftop provides contemplative spaces as well as gathering areas with partially covered shade structures, synthetic turf, and outdoor furniture.
The garden's added benefit is that it is irrigated by a 25,000-gallon cistern buried under the building's parking basement. The cistern collects rainwater from roof run-off, which is then reused to irrigate the rooftop's raised planters and other landscaping at the street level. The landscaping along the Imperial Building's sidewalks include Crimson Spire Oaks and Raywood Ashes, chosen for their tight form and ability to tolerate urban environments.
After only six weeks, the first harvest from the Imperial Building rooftop garden produced more than 40 pounds of radishes, basil, tomatoes, eggplants, and other produce. This urban garden celebrates the agriculture and local food movements and demonstrates the landscape architect's crucial role in both downtown revitalization and food desert mitigation.
Some of the best planning projects find new ways to utilize existing infrastructure. The Alameda Drain & Trail Master Plan considers a 9-mile drainage corridor located in the Middle Rio Grande Valley and provides a framework for a multi-use path and improvements.
Drainage and irrigation ditches are frequently used for walking, running, biking, and equestrian activities, but these recreational uses have never been formally incorporated into the drainage ways. Prior efforts to create a trail system had failed because some landowners did not want a trail adjacent to their property, and within the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD), the agency that has maintained these drainage and irrigation systems since the 1930s, there was resistance to allowing public access to the drainage ways. But under new leadership, the MRGCD wanted to find a new way to approach the multi-use issue.
Part of the challenge was coordinating a collaborative effort between the many public agencies involved in various aspects of the drainage and irrigation system. The diverse group of project partners included the MRGCD, Bernalillo County, the City of Albuquerque, and the Albuquerque Metropolitan Flood Control Authority. Working together to balance sometimes competing interests required, among other things, a shift in thinking from a utilitarian, single purpose approach to the drain's landscape to a more holistic strategy that limits noxious weeds and encourages perennial growth.
Additionally, the master plan focuses on landscape solutions that encourage the re-establishment of native plant communities along the ditch banks to reduce erosion and maintenance needs.
Numerous public meetings, field workshops, bike and hike meet-ups, and consistent communication with all stakeholders enabled the project team to fully explore concerns about property access, trail alignments, and increased trail traffic as a result of a formalized recreational trail.
The intensive outreach helped educate the community about the project and allowed the project team to address any issues throughout the planning process. At the final public meeting in August 2016, participants expressed strong support for the master plan and its core concepts.
This collaborative effort takes a utilitarian irrigation conveyance and transforms it into a regional transportation and recreation asset. This project has helped preserve the traditional agricultural landscape and shaped development patterns. Overall, the planning process has created a foundation of trust and is a template for future recreational master plans.