For most projects we undertake at RVi, our contractual involvement ends when the project has been constructed. As designers who take pride in our work, we will often visit the completed project on our own time, but rarely do we have the opportunity to do a thorough re-evaluation of the project a decade later.
We were recently given just this type of opportunity when we were retained by our clients at Catellus to perform an assessment of the Mueller Northwest Greenway, which was the first of the four large parks we designed for the community. This in-depth assessment brought together several members of the original design team – including RVi (landscape architects), Stantec (civil engineers), Architectural Engineers Collaborative (structural engineers), and Bay and Associates (MEP engineers). Together with arborists from The Davey Tree Company and playground consultants from The Recreation Environments Collaborative, this team performed an in-depth analysis of the condition of the park and made recommendations for improvement.
So, what did we learn from this endeavor? First, we observed that this park has stood the test of time. The issues we found were to be expected given the age of the park and its popularity. At the same time, we learned some things that will benefit future projects both within and beyond the Mueller community.
Even though this park has been maintained with care over the past decade, our team found that more targeted maintenance could have extended the life of site furnishings and would have improved the health, safety, and appearance of trees and plantings. To this end, our team developed a maintenance checklist that is broken down into weekly, monthly, and annual tasks. The creation of this checklist will be part of RVi’s standard Construction Documents package for future projects at Mueller.
Additionally, this careful assessment allowed us to observe which plant materials performed best in individual microclimates within the park. This knowledge will benefit future phases at Mueller as we look to select the most appropriate and sustainable plant palettes for new projects.
Looking back on the design of this park, it is interesting how much difference a decade makes. Even with targeted maintenance and careful plant selection, things change that are beyond the control of the design team – from playground safety regulations to trends in the wording of signage. Taking a step back to re-evaluate a design in this way breathes new life into a project and allows the design team to apply lessons learned for the betterment of future projects. We are delighted to have had this opportunity!