Landscape Architect & Specifier News

JUN 2015

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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Page 80 of 157

June 2015 81 ages, and is concerned about the consequences for a world where an increasing number of people have little understanding about how nature functions. "It has been a pleasure to work with Ms. Shilpa Sethi on the design of this groundbreaking educational facility," said Alex Hart, RLA, a principal at CLA and the design lead. "We have worked hard to make her unique vision a reality, and we are excited to see how the space continues to develop over time." The design for Elements Pre-K, in the words of CLA, is a setting for kids to "explore the world boldly but safely, losing their fear of the unknown, while gaining a respect for the natural world." That is a fine goal to implement anywhere, but in the dense heart of high-rise New York City the need is even greater. The technical challenges are substantial: space and sun are limited, costs are high, and security is a significant factor. In close coordination with Ms. Sethi, CLA assembled a design that rises to those challenges while integrating the school's curriculum. The design allows classes to flow smoothly between indoor and outdoor experiences, providing the kids with interesting new ideas, social experiences and fun, all in a safe setting. Existing Conditions CLA has worked on many sites in New York City, but this design is amongst the most challenging. As the landscape architects began the design work they quickly realized the site represented almost the exact opposite of what they would want for an outdoor playing and learning area. The space is narrow, sunlight limited, and some of the neighboring buildings loom overhead menacingly. Beyond that context, the site presents other challenges. The good news is the soil is not contaminated, although not what you'd call "fertile." It's mandatory to protect kids from certain building features, such as the deep stairwell, but also protecting the building as much as possible from the kids. Because the site is leased, there can be no permanent structures built. The landscape architect fudged a bit there, as the plan calls for a "semi-permanent" play unit. Design Plan for Elements Preschool New York City Central Landscape Architecture, NYC, Alex Hart, RLA, Design Lead , Adrian Hayes, Principal, Project Designer

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