Sustainable Landscaping and the Arts
Haskell partnered with LaVilla School of the Arts, which is celebrating their 20th anniversary, to provide an improved experience when entering the school. The project included the addition of native landscaping to include a pollinator garden, educational signage, new seating and additional art-related improvements.
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In early September, more than 150 volunteers braved Florida’s summer heatwave to participate in the USGBC’s 2019 Green Apple Day of Service (GADoS) project at LaVilla School of the Arts in Jacksonville (FL). This year’s event resulted from a partnership between downtown’s LaVilla School of the Arts and locally-based AEC firm, Haskell, along with several educators, parents, students and Haskell team members. In addition to the “sweat-equity” of our combined volunteers, the project received generous contributions from business partners including Eco Relics, Earth Works, CSS Landscaping, Tremron and Sunbelt Rentals, which resulted in a beautiful end-product. The final creation encompassed the addition of native landscaping to create a pollinator garden, new seating, an interactive art installation and sustainable education to explain the importance of “green” landscaping and methodologies.
Haskell chose to partner with LaVilla for the 2019 GADoS project for many reasons. LaVilla is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and has many special events planned to highlight the school’s milestone accomplishment and positive impact in our community. Earlier in the summer, esteemed artist, Jason Tetlak, completed an outdoor mural along the theatre side of the school along with a prism-colored entryway ceiling along the covered walkway entrance. Haskell and LaVilla’s alumni and Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) came together to generate support for GADoS and the opportunity to bring even more design and beautification to the school – especially with LaVilla being chosen to host the Annual Conference for the Arts Schools Network (ASN) in late October. It was also an opportunity to re-engage Haskell as the original builder of the school twenty years ago – which made this project even more special!
Project planning began in June and involved a group of ten (10) high school interns working with Haskell during the summer. These interns had the opportunity to work with our design and construction professionals as well as LaVilla’s administration team to create the overall project plan. Several meetings involving the interns and staff were hosted at both Haskell and LaVilla to determine the final design solution – which ended up being a win-win! Providing these high school interns with a “real-world” project they could design and then help build was a great experience and learning opportunity. In upcoming years, we expect to continue this approach and allow our high school interns to work on future Green Apple Day of Service projects.
The project included a robust scope of work. Fortunately, we had plenty of volunteers to get the project completed. There were several elements as described below:
- Grass Removal: There was a significant amount of (tough) grass to remove to allow the installation of native landscaping and ground cover – this was the toughest part of the project!
- Seeding: A Florida Eco-Type seed mixture was provided which includes a combination of wild flowers and native grass. Once this is established, it will provide a colorful display.
- Native Landscaping: Over 150 plants were installed and included a combination of Muhly Grasses, Gamma Grasses and White Fountain Grasses.
- Ground Cover: Both pine straw and bark mulch were placed to support the landscaping that was installed as well as to provide a walking surface. In addition, stone gravel was placed at the seating area.
- Seating Area: New seating was provided and created by using reclaimed lumber. The seating was painted to complement the newly provided mural as described below.
- Mural: LaVilla School of the Arts has a rich history of providing arts instruction to middle school students but going back to earlier this year, you would not have realized this was an art school. In conjunction with the GADoS project, a full height, over 200’ long mural was created and installed by Jason Tetlak, renowned artist. This colorful addition along the theatre wall draws focus to the school and strengthens the understanding of one of the school’s main purposes.
- Xylophone Installation: Our team created and installed a custom xylophone outside of the school’s theatre entrance to provide an interactive, colorful and attractive art piece to complement the school’s art instruction.
- Educational Signage: Two custom signs were created for this project. One of Haskell’s architects drew the beautiful and educational graphics for these pieces. The signage was installed at main entry points to provide great visibility to viewers.
This 2019 GADoS at LaVilla School of the Arts project is successful in providing all three pillars of a green school program. 1. It reduces environmental impacts. 2. It improves health and wellness with a more attractive and more importantly, a sustainable entrance to the school. 3. Increases environmental and sustainability literacy with the signage that was installed to continue to educate students, guests and the surround neighborhood about the importance of native landscaping and sustainability. The project will continue to provide benefits as school staff have plans to incorporate the news landscaping into their education plans as they speak about the importance of sustainability. Additionally, the school’s National Honor Society will be responsible for maintaining the landscaping. This was a great event that engaged the school, industry and community – and celebrates an important 20-year milestone anniversary and partnership!