Landscape Architect & Specifier News

FEB 2016

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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(Continued on page 16) 14 Landscape Architect and Specifier News Situated just south of Minneapolis/St. Paul, the town of Apple Valley, Minn., is a growing, vibrant community of over 50,000 residents. The original Western Service Center, built in the 1980s, included a library, courts, county engineering, tax, and social services. The entry plaza space to the service center was designed as a minimalist space, so as not to compete with the scale of the building. Set on an axis with the entry drive boulevard, the front doors created a stark and uninviting space for patrons. Snowy Midwest winters, often with over 6' of snow, created extensive maintenance needs. Snow removal equipment and heavy salting quickly deteriorated the original concrete, damaged light fixtures, and resulted in plant loss for on-grade plant areas. Recently, Dakota County envisioned a new entry plaza that could both enhance the building character and be a well-used space with less maintenance. The design was set around two key objectives: pedestrian access and safety. To achieve these, the team used in-slab glycol heating and examined pedestrian traffic patterns. Reinforced concrete was sourced from Cemstone, a local ready-mix supplier. The mechanical engineer designed a system to utilize return water from the building's central heating plant to preheat the glycol tank. A heat exchanger would then boost the system temperature while pumping through nearly five miles of tubing under the concrete. This high efficiency system means the end of snowplowing and salting the plaza, as moisture sensors from the local Uponor Company trigger snowmelt. Two 50' long ACO trench drains that intercept runoff in the plaza were worked into the design to become an amenity instead of a utilitarian feature. The tubing runs under these heavy-duty drains, keeping them flowing in subzero temperatures. Providing seating areas was an important element to the county. Both employees and visitors asked for more permanent seating in the plaza. Library staff also requested an outdoor amphitheater space for book clubs and children's reading programs. The challenge of incorporating an amphitheater space at-grade was not easy. Working with Dakota County and the library staff, the final design had a 3-tier integral concrete seating area that doubles as a small performance space. h a rd s c a p e s By Ben Hartberg, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP BD+C, Calyx Design Group, St. Paul, Minn. The Heat is on at Dakota County Western Service Center Plaza Above The Dakota County Western Service Center in Apple Valley, Minn., was repaved with heated Cemstone concrete in 2015. Tubing underneath the pavement uses a mixture of glycol and hot water to melt snow. Runoff is directed into 50' long ACO drains set off from the main pedestrian walkways. A local artist was commissioned to sandblast a relief of the county boundary onto the plaza, on axis with the main doors. The relief was painted with a black epoxy paint to create a positive reflection with the matching mural above the main entrance.

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