Archive for August, 2009

Big Toy, Big Fun!



Kids of all ages love the Big Toy


I recently had the opportunity to be involved with the design team for the new playground at Palmetto Islands County Park. For the first time in my professional career, I was able to hold meetings on a swing set and test out new playground equipment which is not your typical day at the office. The playground was designed with imagination and interaction in mind. The team wanted to create an innovative and exciting new play space that would meet the needs of children’s physical and social growth.

The playground equipment is physically challenging to the new user and also encourages kids to come back time and time again. To help enhance social skills, we provided spaces for children to have more personal talks with their friends and other children.  These spaces are equipped with fun hammock seats that allow children the opportunity to talk face to face and develop valuable communication skills.  There are also shaded picnic areas for parents and families that have become the new hot spot for birthday parties.  We provided seating areas throughout the park and within the play spaces so parents won’t miss any of the action.  There are separate play areas for 2-5 year olds and 5-12 year olds.  The climbing boulder and sand play area is appropriate for all ages and promotes interaction between the younger and older kids. And for those hot summer days, there is a mist pole for cooling off.

Not only is the playground beneficial to its users, it is also environmentally sensitive.  We utilized recycled materials whenever feasible.  The equipment is comprised of recycled aluminum and 30% recycled steel.  The equipment is also PVC and Phthalates free.  The benches are made from recycled plastic and the colorful rubberized surface is made from 100% recycled tires and is 100% pervious. This surface material allowed us to position the playground within the Live Oaks on the site without harming the trees.  We also used only native plant material that doesn’t require irrigation and also provides habitat for the surrounding wildlife.  I hope everyone in their professional career has an opportunity to design for children. This was such a fun and rewarding project.

Innovative Stormwater Solution Helps Maximize Useable Land


pervious paver installation

pervious paver installation

Today’s stormwater regulations often create a dilemma for smaller projects. Sites between 0.5 – 2 acres have trouble maximizing buildable area with standard stormwater practices.   Once vehicular and pedestrian access, required parking, buffers, setbacks, grand trees, and retention ponds are taken into account many projects are only left with around 25% of the site for vertical construction.   This can render projects economically unfeasible with current land values.   How can developers meet or exceed their bottom line in these situations?  Here is an example where innovative stormwater infrastructure substantially increased usable area for vertical construction.

Brickyard Business Park is a 0.7 acre commercial project being developed by S.L. Shaw and Associates.   In the initial planning stages we studied the projects stormwater options and found that an infiltration system would increase the usable area for vertical construction from 0.25 acres to 0.35 acres which meant significantly more square footage for build-out.   We were able to meet stormwater requirements without a retention pond by utilizing the permeability of existing soils with a pervious paver system in vehicular areas.

Once the project was bid, we compared the costs for the pervious paver system versus the standard asphalt system and determined that the more innovative pervious paver stormwater management solution was 2.5 times more expensive; however, this only accounted for a $50,000 increase in construction cost.  The client decided to go with the new technology, which  not only enhanced the sustainable design aspect of the project but increased the amount of space available for sale by 40%.

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