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Bay-Friendly Doyle Hollis Park

Landscape Architecture by Gates + Associates




The slide, climbers and swivel play equipment at the Doyle Hollis Park playground in Emeryville, Calif. allow kids a wide array of physical and recreational activities. The multicolored poured-in-place safety surfacing (Surface America) gives parents some piece of mind. Recycler trash receptacles (Forms and Surfaces) are close at hand.

Doyle Hollis Park was built on a 1.25-acre former industrial site in the city of Emeryville, Calif. in Alameda County. Emeryville is a small city pocketed between Berkeley and Oakland in the San Francisco East Bay area, extending to the shores of San Francisco Bay.

Emeryville doesn't have the name recognition of Berkeley, but it is home to Pixar Animation Studios and Jamba Juice.




Seven boulders sit on the curved exposed-aggregate concrete. Masayuki Nagase's fountain is a large granite boulder cut in three sections to express the future (top), past (middle) and present (bottom). Water flows down the two channels carved on opposite sides of the column, which features abstracted handprints. Two recessed lights at the base of the boulder light the channels. The half basketball court area includes lighted bollards (Holophane).

Doyle Hollis Park was designed by San Ramon based landscape architecture and urban design firm Gates + Associates. The park features an array of sustainable design elements and an "urban eco-chic" aesthetic. The space also provides much needed active and passive recreation opportunities for this high density, multiuse neighborhood.
A comprehensive community participation program informed the design. Public workshops helped identify priorities for the site, which included picnic areas, a multiuse lawn, fountain, artistic elements and a sports court, all designed with an emphasis on park security.




Custom black screen fencing (Alco Metal & Iron) has punched "grass" metal panels for a strong, attractive barrier with good visibility between the street and play area. The granite seating area provides a resting area for onlookers.

A portal at one corner of the park is flanked by custom fencing in a grass motif that leads to a playground. A half-basketball court was strategically placed at the opposite end of the park to minimize use conflicts. Three sides of the court are surrounded by black 9-inch green screen fencing with intermittent custom punched metal panels. Court markings were subtly scored into the concrete.




The rain gardens at the picnic areas are pleasing and functional. Two curb cuts direct stormwater runoff from the street on the park's north side into the rain gardens. Beds of Chondropetalum tectorum and Juncus patens are enclosed with recycled plastic header board (Epic Plastics). Irrigation for the multiuse space includes a blackflow prevention device with pressure regulator (Zurn/Wilkins) and Emitterline drip tubing (Netafim TLCV6-12) for precise water levels.

At the epicenter of the park is a multipurpose lawn edged with a seatwall conducive to active play or just relaxing. Four rain gardens are the cornerstones to the lawn area and mimic the grassy characteristics of contemporary California landscapes.




The permeable pavers (Ekopaver) and rain gardens infiltrate a minimum of 85 percent of the annual, average onsite stormwater runoff.

Rain garden plantings include California gray rush, Idaho fescue, spice bush and Berkeley sedge.The facilities and plantings at Doyle Hollis Park were thoughtfully placed within the space to create an open design that is pleasing to the eye. Passive amenities include multiple picnic areas, an amphitheater, a granite fountain designed by artist Masayuki Nagase and a custom restroom. This is not your typical park restroom. It features a green roof, Ipe wood screens, steel cable trellises supporting evergreen clematis and concrete inlaid with a leaf motif.




The restroom's green roof, planted with Stonecrop (sedum species) and Columbine (Aquilegia species), is visible from the top of the play structure. Ipe-clad walls and concrete support steel cable trellises hold Evergreen clematis.

Bay-Friendly Landscape
The city staff strongly supported incorporation of the park's sustainable elements. Early on it was decided a Bay-Friendly Landscape grant would be pursued. Bay-Friendly is a program of StopWaste.org, an agency of Alameda County.




A sign at the park educates visitors about the seven principles of Bay-Friendly Landscaping--gardening and landscaping that is dedicated to a harmonious relationship between the natural conditions of the San Francisco Bay watershed.

The project received a $25,000 Bay-Friendly grant. The goal of the Bay-Friendly program is to protect the watershed of the San Francisco Bay through integrated environmentally sensitive landscape design, construction and maintenance. The Bay-Friendly scorecard lists a range of potential practices under seven core principles:

  • Landscape Locally
  • Landscape for Less to the Landfill
  • Nurture the Soil
  • Conserve Water
  • Conserve Energy
  • Protect Water & Air Quality
  • Create Wildlife Habitat

Many of the practices work toward other sustainability rating systems, including LEED, the Sustainable Sites Initiative and Green Point Rated. Visitors learn about the green features via educational signs placed throughout the park.




The granite seatwall at the toe of the berm runs the length of the open lawn. (Landscape Forms). Turf cells (Grasspave, Invisible Structures) allow for a load-bearing grass surface with the aesthetics of lawn, while protecting vegetative roots.

The following are some highlights of the sustainable practices implemented at Doyle Hollis Park:

  • A comprehensive site analysis was performed early in the design work to align harmoniously with the local climate, wind and solar exposure, on-site soils, existing hydrology, pervious surface areas and flora and fauna.
  • The soils report specified the use of nonsynthetic fertilizers and amendments during construction, and for long-term maintenance.
  • Recycled fly ash displaced half of the cement used in all exterior concrete, compost and mulch produced from urban plant waste and site furnishings and synthetic safety surfaces contain recycled materials.
  • To prevent plant waste and minimize fossil fuels used for hauling plant clippings, plants were specified and spaced such that no shearing is required. For the park turf, long-term maintenance specifications require grasscycling, i.e., leaving grass clippings on the turf after mowing. In the amphitheater area, Carex pansa, a California native meadow sedge, was specified as a drought-tolerant turf replacement. It requires no mowing.
  • A largely native and climate adapted plant palette and a high-efficiency irrigation system with a "smart" weather-based controller minimizes water use. Turf was limited to only that required for recreational purposes, and all planting areas were covered with two inches of mulch to minimize evaporation.
  • The park creates an open space where a building and paved parking lot once stood. The use of more than 40 species of plants makes for increased biodiversity. The trees, shrubs and boulders provide habitat for local birds and insects.
  • The restroom features a green roof with stormwater management benefits. Only low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, adhesives and sealants were used in the restroom to minimize airborne toxins.
  • Permeable pavers and rain gardens infiltrate a minimum of 85 percent of annual average onsite stormwater runoff. The city also introduced the use of the park's rain gardens to treat on-site stormwater and street runoff.
  • The park's maintenance manual requires Integrated Pest Management (IPM), an approach that specifies cultural, physical, mechanical and biological
    pest control methods in lieu of harmful pesticides and herbicides.
  • To minimize heat gain, trees were planted so that a third of the paved areas will be shaded within 15 years.
  • The project received a number of innovation technologies thanks to the city's openness to experiment with alternative approaches. For example, structural cells (Silva Cells) were installed to maximize the rootable soil in sidewalk tree wells. Over time, the city will monitor the success of this technique by supporting healthy tree growth.




Irrigation for the park's open lawn is kept minimal with weather-based remote and drip control valves (Griswold Controls 2000 series 2), pop-up spray heads and bubblers (Rainbird).

The success of Doyle Hollis Park is thanks to active participation of the community, and a forward-thinking city able to mobilize resources and willing to work collaboratively with designers.




The park was built on a former industrial site. Four rain gardens are the cornerstones of the multipurpose lawn. Plantings include Calif. gray rush, Idaho fescue, spicebush and Berkeley sedge.

In addition to the park's achievements as an environmentally sustainable space, the park was awarded the California Park and Recreation Society 2009 Award of Excellence in the category Park Planning - Neighborhood Park.

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Doyle Hollis Park Vendors

  • Airostone: 'Ekopaver'
  • Alco Metal & Iron: Custom 'Grass' Fence Panels
  • D. Lawrence Gates: Granite Flagstone/Seatpads/Seat Turtle
  • DeepRoot Partners: Structural Cells
  • Dogipot: Dog Waste Station
  • Epic Plastics: Recycled Plastic Header Boards
  • Forms and Surfaces: Trash Receptacles (Urban Recycler)
  • Griswold, Hammond Hunter Netafim Rainbird Rainmaster, Wilkins: Irrigation
  • Haws Corp.: Drinking Fountains
  • Holophane: Light Bollards/ Pole Lighting
  • Invisible Structures, Inc.: Turf Cells (Grassspave2)
  • Iron Age Designs: Trench Drain Grates
  • LA Steelcraft: Basketball Standard
  • Landscape Forms: Benches w/Backs, Picnic Tables
  • Palmer Group: Bike Racks
  • Surface America: Play Surfacing




The granite seatwall amphitheater is planted with California meadow sedge (Carex pansa), a native sedge that doesn't require mowing and needs watering about twice a month. Western spice bush (Calycanthus occidentalis) and coast live oak create focal points on each end of the park. Granite pads offer additional seating.


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November 13, 2019, 7:16 pm PDT

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