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Atwater Construction-Turf Battle

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Doing large construction projects at Middlebury comes with a unique challenge, that of time. Most colleges and universities have various programs running throughout the summer, like summer camps and classes. Middlebury, though, has an entire college, the Language School. This intensive 6-9 week program requires the full attention of the students, so we in Facilities try not to tear the whole place up. Therefore, most of our large projects, like the Atwater landscape, we schedule for the couple of weeks from the end of August to the start of Fall Semester.

So Turf Battle begins. We’re winning, by the way, turf tends to lose when faced with an excavator. I will admit its been quite an experience. Most landscape restorations I’ve done at Middlebury are all uphill-starting from the beginning to the very end, the continual process is one of improvement, the next day looking better than the first.

The Atwater landscape at present looks like hell.

Fear not. We’re laying a good foundation, and things will come together quickly. Much of what we’ve done is laying a good foundation (literally, in some cases) for the landscaping on top. I took a bunch of pictures last week to share on the progress.

One of the first parts was the renovation of the ADA ramp to Atwater Dining Hall. The old ramp, made of blacktop, was ripped out, and after regrading, replaced with concrete, now meeting proper codes for width, pitch, and a flat landing area at the bend.

This sidewalk, on the west side of Allen Hall, was added. To the left of the sidewalk in the triangle formed by the walks will be a large planting bed.

Another view of the new walk. This area previously was all crushed stone, put down to prevent mud, as the area was so heavily trafficked that no grass could grow.

This was the beginning of the patio, after layout. The grades here are tricky-the natural lay of the existing ground wanted to send water right toward the building. This is where the excavator came in handy.

View of the patio looking north. This type of patio is tricky to pour and stamp. The concrete is pre-colored in the truck, then stamped on site with what for all intensive purposes look like giant rubber stamps. The process takes a while, so only a square a day can be done, lest the concrete set up before it all gets stamped.

A freshly poured corner piece. We kept the sidewalk through the center of the patio looking like sidewalk in order to keep it’s function. Hopefully tables and chairs won’t be placed on the sidewalk to keep the way clear for access.

A view of the berm looking north. The berm is made of topsoil removed from all the sidewalk and patio excavation, so is a sandy/rocky mix. The berm will be topped with 6″ of good topsoil, to help the trees and lawn that will be planted there. It is hard to get a feel for the size of the berm on pictures, but suffice it to say it is quite large in person.

Here is a view of the berm looking south. The rise at present is pretty close to 4′

One of my favorite parts of the project, not showing up well with my weak cell phone camera. This view is from the top of the berm looking towards Chipman Hill. While during the design competition we’d discussed saving the view of the hill, what surprised me that I hadn’t thought of is the new perspective of the Atwater Dining green roof afforded by the higher topography of the berm.

The project won’t be done by the time the semester begins. Our goal is to have most of the loud construction finished shortly. There are a couple of squares of patio to finish, as well as the two sidewalks leading west from the patio. The next step, which should begin this week, is the planting. We’ll be starting with the planting around Atwater Dining, and will expand out from there as other pieces of the project fall into place.

 

Atwater Plan Posted

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Over on the Turf Battle blog, I’ve posted the plan we’ve developed for the Atwater area of campus. It is still a work in progress, and I’d like to invite all my readers to add comments or suggestions. As we (hopefully) start construction this summer I’ll be posting updates here on Middland.

And by the way, I swear I just saw the sun. At least I think that’s what it was.

Edge and Atwater

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Yes, dear readers, I’m still cheating on you on another blog. The Atwater contest is nearing completion, though, and in one of the final posts for Turf Battle I’m again writing about a landscape concept you all might find interesting. I write about Edge, and how it effects the composition of masses and spaces within the landscape.

Space and Atwater

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

I’ve just finished a blog post for the Turf Battle competition that I thought readers of this blog may find interesting, as it pertains to landscape design, the Middlebury landscape in particular. In Space, I wrote about the hierarchy of outdoor spaces on campus, and how the master plan for Middlebury sees our outdoor spaces. I found it fascinating to research, as most of my landscape design courses I took never focused on such large and lofty areas such as these. It’s a quick read, hope you enjoy it.

Middlebury Landscape History

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Over on the Turf Battle Atwater Landscape Contest Blog, I just posted a short new piece readers of this blog might find interesting. I was fooling around in ArcGIS one day, when I came across some historical aerial photographs of the town of Middlebury, including areas of the campus. I exported 3 pictures from the map of the Atwater section of campus, from 2006, 1974, and 1942. I like seeing the differences in canopy cover from year to year, and am amazed how young some “old” trees we have on the north end of campus actually are. Expect more pictures like this soon-this is really cool stuff.

Turf Battle-the Redesign of Atwater

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

As you may have read in the email from Tim Spears, the Master Plan Implementation Committee is sponsoring a contest to redesign the Atwater Commons area of campus. You can read all about it on the blog dedicated to the project at http://sites.middlebury.edu/turfbattle/, where myself and several others will be writing.

I’ll be blogging here about the contest as well. Posts on the contest site will be specific to the contest, so all you wonderful readers  here will probably not find it all that exciting. On Middland, though, I’ll be blogging more general topics, hopefully some of interest. Topics like Sustainable Landscaping, some design theory, rain gardens, maybe even down to lists of favorite plants.

Why have students design a significant portion of the landscape here? I will admit to having moments of control issues, so the intitial reaction of a student design might be one of dismay. Lately, though, I find myself walking on campus at nights, or on the weekends, and I’m amazed by how different the campus is. It’s not just seeing things at a new time of day, it’s more than that. Without the faculty, staff, cars, gators, lawn mowers, pick up trucks, all that, the campus seems more homey. The sidewalks seem busier, and there seems to be a buzz, a background hum of activity that makes Middlebury seem exciting, a fun place to live.

So I’ve realized, well, I don’t live here. It’s not my school. (Maybe I’ll claim ownership of a couple of trees, but, spend some time climbing them for work and it’s nice to be on a first name basis.) Who better to plan a major outdoor living area on campus than its residents? While I think that everybody that lives and works here should have a say in the landscape, I’m excited to see just what the students want to do with their campus. I invite you to join the discussion, either here or on the Atwater contest blog, and let your voice be heard as well.