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Aetna Building Maintenance Community Garden

By Chris Laster, NBBJ landscape designer





The vision for Aetna Building Maintenance Community Garden started in April 2012 with an introspective look at their property, igniting a passion to transform a vacant lot into a stunning space to inspire a more cohesive and environmentally-conscious neighborhood.
Photo Courtesy of Shelly Drees + David Shimmel


The neighborhoods south of downtown Columbus have begun a large-scale, beautification initiative. Aetna Building Maintenance (ABM), a janitorial company committed to sustainability and the betterment of their community, is located in the heart of these neighborhoods.

ABM approached Ohio State University's student chapter of ASLA to design and build the community garden. The students saw this as an opportunity to help ABM engage and give back to their community while gaining real world experience. The kickoff meeting prescribed the community garden as a multifunctional space that showcased sustainability, gave people access to their own fresh produce, and provided a place for community interaction and respite.

The shade pavilion provides a nice space for employees from the surrounding businesses to eat their lunch and engage with the community. A reclaimed concrete patio used for community gathering space was constructed from the gravel of Aetna Building Maintenance's roof and from concrete remnants of the historic Olentangy Amusement Park (1880 - 1939).

 




The garden has 20 raised planters in downtown Columbus, Ohio, arranged along a diagonal datum to provide community members and local business partners access to their own fresh produce and to encourage pedestrian permeability.
Photo Courtesy of Matt Johnson



The application of sustainable techniques in the space added an element of excitement. The garden is completely irrigated by the stormwater runoff from the building's roof collected in repurposed barrels. Solar lights were placed on the planters to illuminate the pathway in order to diminish energy cost. Ohio native prairie plants were introduced to help treat and slow water runoff from the site. Additional benefits of the prairie include a low maintenance habitat restoration for animals and insects of the surrounding area as well as year round flowering interest. ABM was apprehensive at first to keep the prairie, but quickly adopted it as their key feature after the first flowers bloomed.

Since its completion, The Aetna Building Maintenance Community Garden has received a 2012 Student Merit Award from the Ohio Chapter of ASLA and a 2013 Keep Ohio Beautiful Award in the Business/Industry category.







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October 23, 2019, 10:05 pm PDT

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