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Garrigus Plaza Renovation:
College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE) and Home to the Landscape Architecture Department


Landscape Architecture by Element Design





To create more usable spaces for Garrigus Plaza at the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE), an area referred to as the "sun deck" was designed as an outdoor dining space. The framing was constructed over new concrete piers poured directly on the roof, with composite decking and trim finishing. The deck drains freely to the roof stone below.


A roof deck of a basement lab and classroom, part of the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE), also home to the landscape architecture department, has served for some 40 years as an at-grade level plaza for the adjoining classroom tower, the Garrigus Building. The building and plaza were completed in 1973, taking the surname of the former associate director of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and Department of Animal Sciences. The plaza was the most heavily traveled pedestrian CAFE space, but was was uncomfortable and little used by students, faculty or staff.

The Garrigus Plaza surface and drainage had long ceased to properly function, the concrete spalled, cracked and in disrepair. The original design consisted primarily of concrete and brick pavement, with minimal green space. The plaza experienced significant ponding when it rained, and winter precipitation left dangerous ice. As the signature entrance for the college, the space was long overdue for a redesign.

 




The old Garrigus Plaza surface and drainage had long ceased to properly function, the concrete spalled, cracked and in disrepair. The original design consisted primarily of concrete and brick, with minimal green space. The plaza experienced significant ponding when it rained, and winter precipitation left dangerous ice. As the signature entrance for the college, the space was long overdue for a redesign.



Originally envisioned as a repair project, the university seized the opportunity to seek a broader solution and solicited design proposals from local firms. The landscape architects at Element Design decided to take a risk and submitted a plan based on a bold concept of agricultural patterns and greening the roof deck to create a plaza worthy of the college it serves. Element's submission was selected. Ramona Fry, RLA, ASLA, LEED BD+C, was the project manager for Element Design. She and design team members Liz Piper, RLA, ASLA, LEED BD+C, project landscape architect and Mark Arnold, RLA, ASLA, design principal, are alumni of the University of Kentucky's Department of Landscape Architecture. For them, it was natural to be enthused about the project from the beginning. The project design was further developed, construction documents produced and construction of the new Alumni Plaza was completed by June 2014.

 




A 52-ft. wide by 22-ft. tall steel sculpture frames the plaza. Structural engineers Brown + Kubican were enlisted to aid in the design for the new sculpture and provide structural design of the foundations for the sculpture and new lights. The foreground is extensively planted with purple 'Love' grass.'



Design Challenges
The project presented some unique challenges for the designers and builders. While the deterioration of the surface was apparent, it was also necessary for the university to replace the roof membrane, roof drains and all of the drainage fill material. Permeable pavers were set directly over the new roof stone, creating a surface that drains through continuously.

Given the size and very horizontal nature of the plaza, two styles of permeable pavers were selected to visually break up the scale of the space, and help define smaller gathering areas. In an effort to create more usable spaces, an area referred to as the "sun deck" was designed to provide outdoor dining space. The framing was constructed over new concrete piers poured directly on the roof, with composite decking and trim finishing. The deck drains freely to the roof stone below.

 




'Monica Rectangle' fiberglass planters (The Chandler Company) border the plaza.



The desire to include additional green space in the plaza led to creative detailing of landscape areas. As the existing roof top section varied from only 6 to 12 feet from roof deck to pavement, new landscape areas were created by installing cast-in-place concrete curbing in varying heights, allowing new soil depths between 10 and 18 inches to allow the plants to flourish in the challenging roof top conditions. A special soil mix of sand, topsoil, peat moss and expanded aggregate was selected based on hand mixing and testing of the materials. Drip irrigation was installed to minimize water usage, while supplying the appropriate amount of water for establishment and growth.

As the design called for new sculpture and lighting on the roof deck, some creative problem solving was needed to install these pieces. Structural engineers Brown + Kubican were enlisted to aid in the design for the new sculpture and provide structural design of the foundations for the sculpture and new lights, which were anchored to the existing roof deck.

 




All site lighting is LED. The stylish cylindrical light poles are the "Ottowa Light Column" (Ligman Lighting USA). The pole lighting (far right) is the InVUE "Slide" luminaire, and the blue sculptural piece is uplit with InVUE 'Vision' fixtures, both from Cooper Lighting by Eaton.



The contractors also had their challenges. While site access was at-grade, the occupied classrooms and lab space below the plaza meant the general contractor needed to take extreme caution in use of construction equipment and employ creative construction techniques. Additionally, construction occurred during the school year, and staging of work had to be moved frequently to accommodate continuous pedestrian access through the plaza. A detailed phasing schedule and pedestrian access plan were developed to balance user safety, circulation demands and the construction schedule.

 




Designated plant beds display agricultural crops, like cotton (left) to showcase the college's research initiatives, which include plantings of experimental American chestnut seedlings. New horticultural cultivars will be organized in rotational interpretive garden plots, creating a dynamic and educational landscape.



Creative, Collaborative Design
As the university solicited potential design solutions for the plaza, the landscape architects were given an open program for the project, allowing for a creative and collaborative design. The university's primary goal was to renovate pavements and make for a safer and more usable space. But as the design discussion evolved in-house, Element Design developed a broader narrative for the project, envisioning a transformative space that becomes the signature feature of the CAFE campus. The design narrative is a celebration of all the college has to offer, including a commitment to sustainability, agriculture and animal sciences, technology and design.

The notions of patterns in landscape and agriculture, texture and textile, celebration of seasons, art and design all play a part in the composition of the plaza. The educational mission is also expressed through seating and study spaces, as well as environmental research and landscape and crop display areas. The plaza is intended to become a very active participant in the pedagogy of the university and provide an active and interesting space year round.

 




The new raised beds have cast-in-place concrete curbing. The hardscape along the beds are 'EcoFlo' permeable pavers, said to have "an Old World cobble stone appearance" that meets pedestrian slip resistance standards. Walking on the plaza used to be more perilous, as water pooled and ice would form in the winter.



The initial concept began with an office-wide design charrette and developed into a design that reflects the college's mission and the agricultural landscape of Kentucky. Upon selection to provide the final design for the plaza, Element worked closely with the university and its physical plant division, along with representatives from a variety of CAFE departments to ensure the plaza became a high quality and fully inclusive space for all.

Features
The overall plan is inspired by the simple geometry of the agricultural landscape and allows for seasonal plants and an evolving landscape to continuously emerge. The design features small conversation and study spaces where students can sit or stretch out on large stone slabs, large open gathering areas that can host special events and an outdoor dining deck surrounded by drifts of plant material. A new 52' steel arch, reminiscent of the bold colors and materials used in agriculture, creates a gateway to the college and serves as a celebration of the college's educational programs. All new site furnishings, planters, and LED lighting were installed throughout the plaza, including new banners and kiosks that provide information, enhance branding and share the college's core educational mission. Quality & Amenities The high profile of the project and the unique challenges of rehabilitating a roof plaza demanded the highest level of quality in design, materials and construction. The excitement and passion of the entire team showed in the attention to detail and willingness to do what it takes to make the project successful.

 




The benches are quarried Indiana limestone. The American Chestnut Foundation donated chestnut tree seedlings and whips (left), which will grow in the plot for at least three years to see how they fair. The 'demo forest' is part of the ongoing research projects at the college to find resistant chestnut tree varieties to help repopulate Appalachia," explains Ramona Fry, PLA, ASLA, LEED BD+C. "We were super excited to have them in the plaza."



The plaza covers 21,000 square feet. The new surface was designed to use the existing roof deck drains for surface drainage. Nearly every surface in the plaza is now permeable, allowing stormwater to percolate through the plaza down to a layer of drainage stone and the roof drains below. The pavement consists of over 12,000 square feet of permeable concrete pavers, alternating between two styles and color mixes.

The 1,600 square foot sun deck is constructed of composite decking, which drains to roof stones below. Large native limestone slab benches provide seating in the smaller study nooks, while tables and chairs with umbrellas provide sheltered dining and study space on the sun deck. Over 7,500 square feet of green space was included in the design, more than doubling the preexisting amount of dilapidated turf and declining trees. Integrally colored dark grey concrete curbing was installed in various heights to create an organized and layered system of planting beds while also providing informal seating options.

 




The 1,600 square foot sun deck is constructed of 'Transcend' composite decking (Trex), which drains to roof stones. 'Plexus' and 'Solstice' table and shades were specified.



Designated plant beds display agricultural crops, like cotton, and showcase the college's research initiatives with plantings of experimental American chestnut seedlings. New horticultural cultivars will be organized in rotational interpretive garden plots, creating a dynamic and educational landscape.

 




The foreground planting beds on the sun deck include cherry laurel (left of the sculpture), multiple varieties of cotton (middle planter) and 'Royal Purple' liriope (right). In the background (from left) are 'Northern Sea' oats, chia, 'Little Henry' itea, the chestnut seedlings / whips (in the planter that seats the sculpture leg) with some annuals for color behind, and more 'Purple Love' grass (far right).



Alumni Plaza
Client: University of Kentucky
College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE)

Design Team
Lead Consultant
Element Design - Landscape Architecture + Civil Engineering + Planning
• Ramona Fry, RLA, ASLA, LEED BD+C - Principal in Charge / Project Manager
• Mark Arnold, RLA, ASLA - Design Principal
• Liz Piper, RLA, ASLA, LEED BD+C - Project Landscape Architect
Key Consultants
Brown + Kubican - Structural Engineers
• Craig Brown, PE, SECB - Principal in Charge
• Clay Gatewood, PE - Design Engineer

Construction Team
General Contractor
Marrillia Design and Construction
• Josh Marrillia - Owner
• Brian Gravitt - Project Manager
• Travis Harris - Site Superintendent
Key Sub Contractors
• Unit Pavers - Structures Hardscape Specialists
• Concrete - Stewart Contracting
• Steel Fabrications - Steel Trailer
• Electrical - Henderson Services
• Painting - Chambers Painting
• Roofing - JBK, Inc.

 




The pathway leading to the sun deck has 4x8-inch 'HydraBric' (StormLock series) permeable pavers, bordered by sunflowers. The combined two alternating styles and color mixes of permeable pavers cover 12,000 square feet.



Vendors
Plaza Lighting
• Pole fixture: Cooper Lighting by Eaton, InVUE "Slide" (LED)
• Light column: Ligman Lighting USA "Ottowa Light Column" (LED)
• Uplights: InVUE "Vision" (LED)
• Drip Irrigation: Rainbird
• Permeable Pavers - Reading Rock "EcoFlo" and "HydraBric"
• Composite Decking - Trex "Transcend"
• Fiberglass Planters - The Chandler Company "Monica Rectangle"

Key Plaza Construction Facts
• 21,000 square foot year old roof top plaza • Removal of all impervious pavements
• 12,000 square feet of new permeable concrete pavers • 1,600 square feet 'sun deck' with Trex composite decking
• 7,500 square feet of added rooftop green space • Drip irrigation for all new landscape beds
• All new site furnishings and planters • LED lighting throughout the plaza
• Designated landscape areas where seasonal crops are grown for display and educational purposes







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