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Firms & Projects: Peaks to Plains Design

Peaks to Plains Design, started in 2003, is a two-person woman-owned business that specializes in innovative planning and creative design solutions that are not only fiscally responsible and achievable, but also emphasize the education and interaction of society within the targeted environment.

What sets them apart

Peaks to Plains Design has the ability to collaborate effectively with clients and with other disciplines enables Peaks to Plains Design to provide comprehensive, innovative, and functional solutions to outdoor space. Their clients are in private industry as well as public entities that include local, state and federal jurisdictions. In addition, they enjoy collaborative relationships with engineers, architects and public agencies. Active in the community, they serve on public boards and donate their time and expertise to help envision long-term goals.

Project: Highland Park Project

Highland Park

When Peaks to Plains Design (PTPD) sets out to do a park design, it is their intent to achieve several goals. Many of these are the typical project goals: comply with standards and maintain policies that incorporate the ideas of the owner and needs of the public. They also have the bigger goal of taking a space that may appear to be large and endless or small and useless and creating space that people will use.

One example is the Highland Park project. When interviewing for the job, Peaks to Plains Design contended that anyone, including the general public, could design a grey concrete slab, select some equipment out of the catalog and get the project built.

Expertise: The skill that PTPD brought to the table was how to make this project not only functional in getting kids wet while also targeting imaginative play as a key element of the design, but also how to attract people from outside the immediate neighborhood to something unique. That thinking led to the theme concepts.

Design Themes: One theme was an "ocean theme." PTPD placed a whale, an octopus and a lobster design in the concrete. The water play elements that they selected would represent the fin of the whale, the coiled tail of the lobster, and the cage of the octopus. They still used standard equipment from a catalog, but enhanced their value. A similar process was developed with the "games" theme.

Project: Cattail Park and Sandan Park Project

Cattail Park

With the planning of Cattail Park, Peaks to Plains Design was faced with a long linear parkway with city regulations that demanded a set-back from all streams and water bodies. They utilized several tools for the creation of the outdoor spaces. Plant materials were used to define spatial boundaries and stimulate visual and olfactory senses. Interesting paving patterns and other hardscape materials enhance how people use the space. Effective site planning, including building placement, layout and grading-influenced circulation, was utilized throughout the space. Unique site furnishings and art placement also defined the individuality of a space, and with proper placement, made the area a destination for all.

Cattail Park

Users: The final implementation of the plan supports all age groups. Families with young children may use Sandan Park with its playground and large open space. Older families use the parkway to view wildlife and walk on the trails. Of course, the intent is for families of all ages to use all of the facilities creating a well-integrated neighborhood.

Challenges: During the design process, Peaks to Plains Design facilitated public meetings and presentations to community groups, using each of these opportunities to educate the public on design as well. For example, at a neighborhood task meeting, they found that people were upset at a newly built irrigation pond. Peaks to Plains Design solicited all the questions, collaborated with the city to issue a "Q&A," presented case studies of similar issues in other communities and presented some preliminary ideas on how to mediate the situation. Using the "Q&A" as an opportunity to educate the public on some very basic principals of water conservation they posted the dialogue on the firm's website and presented the findings to the task force. Once given the right information, educated on the decision process and offered simple solutions, many people were satisfied with the pond.

Cattail Park

Why they succeed: Being able to be active in the community through serving on public boards and using projects as a platform to educate the public is one of the key reasons for this firm's early success.

Principal: Jolene Rieck, landscape architect, was formerly with the award-winning firm Fischer and Associates. When Fischer and Associates closed its doors, she built upon the reputation they had in the community and across the state and was able to maintain relationships with many of those clients.

Employee/Partner: Annie Loe, is a landscape architect in training. She graduated with an LA degree, but is not yet licensed.

Specialty: Peaks to Plains Design uses the latest in computer technology including AutoCad, Microstation, and desktop publishing applications. This, in combination with perspective sketching and rendering, provides effective communication to clients and other professionals. The practice focuses on providing high quality land and community planning, site design and landscape architectural services.

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December 6, 2019, 12:45 pm PDT

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