Every year the Alexandria Beautification Commission canvases the city looking for properties and projects that represent the best beautification efforts in Alexandria. Beautification includes improvements to a community encompassing landscaping, architecture, and sustainable environmental practices creating a healthier community and higher quality of life. Landscape architects Gabriela, Matt and Susan attended the awards ceremony on September 27 where three LandDesign projects were presented with awards by Mayor Allison Silberberg and members of the City Council.
LandDesign’s Washington, D.C. Office – Excellence in Sustainable Design Award
LandDesign accepted the award for our Washington, D.C. office, an adaptive reuse space located in Alexandria.
With its ivy-covered walls, urban garden and green roof, LandDesign’s office has become a well-known and appreciated building in the community. The green roof has many benefits including reducing energy costs with natural insulation, creating peaceful retreats and absorbing stormwater. The green roof and garden both provide the benefit of reducing the heat island effect (urban areas that are significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas due to human activities). The garden also has an environmental and social impact on LandDesign and the local community, as a variety of plants in the garden provide vegetables and herbs as well as food and cover for insects and birds.
The addition of a beehive in 2014 has provided pollination for flowers and crops in our garden and the community. Approximately 30 lbs. of honey is harvested each year, which is used in the office kitchen and shared with our neighbors and friends. Recently, Gabriela gave a garden tour and class to the Da Vinci preschool group – a great opportunity to educate the children with a sustainable and hands-on experience.
Matthew Maury Elementary School – Excellence in Sustainable Design Award
Matthew Maury Elementary has a strong academic learning environment, with a staff that is committed to making sure everything they do leads back to the students’ success.
The landscape design of the playground contributes to this goal in many ways, intertwining academic success with students’ social and physical environment. Once eroded from lack of adequate stormwater facilities, the playground now includes a multipurpose turf field and court, play space, bio-retention facilities and a learning garden with an amphitheater and pathways lined by vegetable and flower beds.
We are proud that Matthew Maury Elementary engaged with our collaborative partner, REAL School Gardens, to make this learning garden the first REAL School Gardens endeavor in the Mid-Atlantic, helping students become more engaged through hands-on outdoor learning. This project was a measure of true collaboration among the City of Alexandria, the school board and the local community, with a large portion of the budget coming from donations and tireless fundraising efforts by the non-profit Maury Schoolyard Initiative.
Alexandria Renew Enterprises – Green Practices in Beautification Award
AlexRenew is dedicated to sustainability and the expansion of public education and outreach opportunities, leading to a desire to design their facilities to match their vision statement “Environment and People—the Best of Both!” After working with Alexandria Renew Enterprises on several other landscape architecture and greening projects, we jumped at the opportunity to provide landscape architecture for the Environmental Center, a six-story Energy Star certified building on track to achieve LEED Platinum status.
LandDesign’s planting design includes a native landscape that provides habitat for wildlife and reduces maintenance and environmental impacts on the community. We added an indoor living green wall to help filter air, improve efficiency and provide a calming view. The signature main entrance features an integrated water fountain that highlights one of AlexRenew’s key products – reclaimed water. Surrounding the building and fountain are park spaces open to the public, including green park space on top of the parking garage and an artificial turf soccer field on top of the Nutrient Management Facility treatment tanks. The trail that leads to the field will ultimately connect to the wider Alexandria trail network, further servicing the employees and greater community.