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High School Sanctuary Comes to Fruition this Summer




The ''Student Sanctuary'' design for Union City High School in New Jersey is a 16,900-sq. ft. triangular pedestrian plaza with bluestone-paved patios, a rain garden, a small amphitheater, benches, a decorative radius pergola with additional seating and a waterfall and fountain. Photo: Borst Landscape & Design


When Union City High School (UCHS) in New Jersey broke ground for the Student Sanctuary this fall, Terry McMahon, landscape designer at Borst Landscape & Design in Allendale, N.J., was especially excited.

McMahon, awarded the head landscape designer post by the Union City Board of Education to create final specifications for the Student Sanctuary, dedicated two years to the detailed bidding and design plans for the outdoor space. The project team also included structural engineers from Becica Associates, and site engineers from Environmental Resolutions.

''The educators, engineers, contractors and students have this constant energy that is personally giving me a wonderful experience,'' said McMahon. ''The talent and experience among the professionals is a privilege, and ultimately the project will be an outstanding success.''

The urban outdoor space will be a place to sit, gather or stroll the brick-paved winding walkways and planted gardens. The Student Sanctuary will include a fully functioning rain garden, a small amphitheater, benches, a decorative radius pergola with additional seating and a beautiful waterfall and fountain. Bluestone-paved patios at the Sanctuary's three corners and concrete ramps will allow barrier-free access to all landscape elements. Evergreen and deciduous trees, flowering shrubs and perennials, attractive seasonal grasses and sculpted-lawn plantings were selected to deliver gorgeous, changing colors and textures year round. Ornate metal security fences, gates and low natural-stone walls section off the plaza from the street.

The Student Sanctuary is the final element to the new Union City High School and Athletic Complex, which officially opened in 2009 as one of the demonstration projects of New Jersey's school construction program.

Union City Mayor Brian Stack was instrumental in acquiring the state funding for the Student Sanctuary. The project received the Hudson County Planning Board's 2011 Gold Smart Growth Award, based on site selection, site design and proposed green infrastructure criteria from a number of sources, including the American Planning Association, the U.S. Green Building Council and NJ Future.


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June 16, 2019, 10:34 pm PDT

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