ATLAS Lab Inc. is an award-winning design studio—marrying the disciplines of landscape architecture and urban design to build healthy communities through public art and community engagement.
TopoSHARE is an interactive landscape art installation comprised of 15 redwood trees and 500 milk crates, inspired by the history of The Mill on Broadway. The Mill’s erstwhile life was that of a sawmill, producing wood fruit crates that travelled the world, carrying produce from the region. The redwood trees provide the literal and symbolic frame of the installation – showcasing some of very tree types that the Mill once processed. The brightly colored crates honor the topography of the hills from which the trees were logged.
Volunteers who helped realize the project: Daniel Stanush, Marq and Rachel Truscott, Rachel McQueen, David Vela, Erik Prince, Jake Castro, Jacoby Pulisi, Jordan and Alex Brozell
microDune proposes a “pop up” park experience that embodies Sacramento’s historical ecology (inland sand dunes that once existed in our delta) while creating an interactive, educational and fun experience for the community. Using small scale and low cost strategies, the microDune is comprised of a modified shipping container and sand surface to allow for a flexible surface for play, seating, lounging and viewing.
microDune aims to interject the River into the City fabric through a series of pop up events throughout the region as a way to solicit feedback from the community about how to improve our riverfront.
The Sacramento and American Rivers are Sacramento’s biggest asset, yet there is little to no connection between the City and the River. The microDune symbolizes the most critical assets of the City while cultivating a new, contemporary identity for the city of Sacramento - strengthening public life, culture and development potential along the Sacramento River. While landscape may be often seen as a second-hand investment, the Sacramento riverfront is in a unique position to re-conceive itself as a cultural landmark.
Initially, the Dune concept was developed for the Pitch for Change competition hosted by the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce - Metro EDGE organization. The Pitch for Change competition called for ideas about how to improve the Sacramento region (from local community members). The Dune concept was voted winner at the conference as the idea the community wanted to see implemented.
Role: Design Lead, Project Manager (schematic design, design development, and construction documentation)
Responding to the needs of the local community and the majority of rental properties with little access to secured open space, Quadriga developed pro-bono designs to transform the vacant lot on 19th and Q Street into an urban dog park. Working closely with Capitol Area Development Authority (CADA), CADA and Quadriga rallied stakeholders, City officials and the City’s Parks and Recreation Department to amend the future use of the parcel (slated as a standalone plaza) to be reconceived as a dog park. Conceived as a multi-use park, Brooks Truitt Park supports a public plaza, designated dog play areas, community garden and public art installation for Sacramento’s Midtown area. The master plan for the site was revised and was unanimously approved by City Council Fall of 2015. Brooks Truitt Park is unique due to its urban setting and reduced size. As such, it will fulfill multiple needs in the neighborhood: designated dog play area, plaza, community garden, etc. To address the urban nature of the park site, we wanted to ground the dog play areas within a robust tree canopy, framed by native/drought adapted plantings and contemporary lighting fixtures and furnishings. Visitors will be greeted by a large word sculpture that spells “BARK” at the center or a large plaza that we hope creates an iconic landmark for the park and the community.
Market Street Prototyping Festival / Playland at 43rd Ave.
San Francisco, CA
"San Francisco is defined by its hills. They give rise to, even are, its landmarks: Coit Tower, Nob Hill, the cable cars. They are the mirror image of the neighborhoods into which they divide The City. They shape the fog, guiding it away from sunny districts and into others. What better way to know San Francisco than to know its hills?" -- Dave Schweisguth
Source: Schweisguth, Dave. “How Many Hills Are There In San Francisco?” SFGazetteer.com: Bits of San Francisco Geography
Drawing from the nearly 53 hills that frame San Francisco’s most diverse and engaging neighborhoods, Peak Experience reconceives the hills of SF into a series of varying and undulating mounds that frame a mix of uses that promote the integration of play into traditional street models. Situated along the stretch of Embarcadero and Fremont, Peak Experience builds upon the recreational corridor of the waterfront to establish a strong identity for Market Street through the augmentation of the flexible sidewalk zone to create an active corridor that supports interactive discovery, play and community engagement. Responding to the lack of views of SF’s landscape and often static streetscape elements, Peak Experience proposes a soft and flexible sidewalk zone that seeks to introduce a malleable street typology that provide a platform for varying community experiences, while educating users of SF geography.
Sacramento’s river network is the city’s largest asset, yet there is little to no connection between Sacramento and its rivers and few areas to view or enjoy them. In response, The DUNE is an urban park along the Sacramento riverfront that serves to reconnect the City with the River. Taking cues from the historical Sacramento-San Joaquin delta ecology, the Dune proposes a riverfront experience that embodies the forms of the historic sand dunes and mounds (pre-1850s), paired with active programming to activate the Sacramento riverfront.
The Dune is a microcosm. It symbolizes the most critical assets of the City while cultivating a new, contemporary identity for the city of Sacramento - strengthening public life, culture and development potential along the Sacramento River. While landscape may be often seen as a second-hand investment, the Sacramento riverfront is in a unique position to reconceive itself as a cultural landmark.
Grand-Metis International Garden Festival
Reford Gardens, Quebec CAN
15 KNOTS is composed of three primary elements occupying a rectangular plot of grass (the canvas), Wind Walls (the agent of design), and Perimeter Path (the circulator). The Field occupies the center of the lot, planted with flax. While retaining a simple planar elegance, the field is enacted upon by the forces of wind. The natural forces of the wind are magnified and abstracted to ephemerally etch its patterns through the movement of the grass. The Wind Walls generate the force necessary to gracefully form the grass field into directional patterns. As visitors circulate around the perimeter the wind stream becomes momentarily interrupted by their presence, encouraging a direct relationship between the movement and proliferation of visitors and the vectorization of the grass field. 15 KNOTS is at once mechanically operated while remaining enticingly ephemeral, induced both by the mechanization of the wind walls. The wind patterns will alternate weekly, through the rotation of mobile fans located within the walls. The simple decomposed granite Perimeter Path enables a circumscribed experience of the garden.
Contributors: Kimberly Garza, Andrew tenBrink, Forbes Lipschitz
Flowers on Florin
Florin Road Master Plan
For South Sacramento, Florin Road is a significant commercial thoroughfare for the local community. Over the last century, Florin Road has experienced significant changes to its landscape. From once thriving agriculture fields, to a booming commercial corridor in the middle of the 20th century, Florin Road’s landscape is a composite of fragmented commercial strips, razed retail centers, and vacant large-scale auto dealerships, resulting in 6 million SF of paving area. The large parking areas that dominate the landscape, contribute to heat island effect, disconnected urban tree canopy and reduced open space. Moreover, climate change challenges and regional issues of drought in the California valley have called for an unprecedented need for innovative design solutions to tackle the suburban landscape (i.e. shuttered retail properties, extraneous paving and lack of planting).
In response, Florin Road is in a unique position to redefine itself and leverage the nearly 200,000 residents, within a 3-mile radius, to create more vibrant, sustainable and active areas for the community. Flowers on Florin proposes to strategically re-occupy the mono-functional paving along Florin, with colorful, water efficient and ecologically rich plantings that support vital habitat for birds, bees, insects etc. In this scenario, Florin Road’s parking lots become templates for native planting areas to re-establish a healthy and sustainable community, both ecologically and for the local community to connect, play and enjoy.
Catalyst Capitol Mall Design Competition
The urban forest is an important part of every thriving city. Tree canopies provide critical services for cities, including reducing heat island effect though the provision of shade and the creation of microclimates. With a large enough canopy, a robust tree population will reduce air pollution through bioaccumulation and the production of oxygen from carbon dioxide gas. However, the urban forest should be manifested in a different manner than the wild organization of a rural forest. While establishing a productive habitat for thousands of bird and insect species, the urban forest must be integrated with the daily functions of urban life. In terms of organization, the planting strategy should conform to the urban grid, provide year-round shade to south facing facades and allow for a varied, vibrant and continuous public realm.
Sacramento is the City of Trees. The existing tree canopy returns $50 million dollars in environmental benefits each year. Yet, Sacramento’s tree canopy is aging, with no framework or proposed funding to re-establish the canopy. In response, Capitol Canopy proposes a region-specific tree canopy that consists of three distinct plant communities that foster urban habitats, while returning numerous environmental benefits to the City. The canopy is deployed through a series of phrases, spanning a 25+ year period throughout the City, first beginning with the revitalization of the Capitol Mall grounds in the heart of Downtown Sacramento. The Capitol Mall, consisting of a lawn median, is transformed into highly programmed corridor to ensure use of the Mall around the clock. Through curb realignments and drive lane reductions, the Mall is activated through Garden and Play Pods, outdoor Farmer’s Market Canopy and Amphitheater Park, all framed by a robust urban canopy that support a multitude of City events.
PORTAL is a temporary installation designed to bring life to dormant spaces within Sacramento’s urban fabric and engage the local community through programming that celebrates the region. Open to the community for a one-month period, PORTAL anchored over twenty events, supported by over twenty-five local businesses and organizations. Events included community focused lectures, author talks, performance showcases, pop-up shops, yoga classes, a drought tolerant planting exhibit, a movie night, and a silent disco. The installation concluded at TBD Fest, Sacramento’s 3-day music and arts festival. In addition to community activation through programing, PORTAL also promotes social media engagement through the use of the custom hashtag, #portalsac. PORTAL photos, stories, and ideas were posted by the community via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, with each post triggering the installation to change the color of its LED lighting.
Curating the Common
Bernardine Monastery Complex Competition
The redevelopment of the Bernardine Monastery Complex is based on the need to cultivate the district’s contemporary identity and needs while engaging with the site’s unique heritage. The system of open spaces and streets that encompass the complex need to reveal the multiple layers of both historic and contemporary events while editing the numerous urban configurations that obstruct the flow/flux of urban life.
In order to allow Lviv to curate its own unique resources and local community, Curating the Common outlines a formal composition of unifying ground planes and articulated vertical layers that flank and inhabit the complex through three distinct zones: Cathedral Grove, Cathedral Sculpture and Performance Plaza and Valova Art Café. Exposed vertical layers acknowledge Lviv’s rich history through a series of strategically located vertical strata that render visible local historic events and local artifacts comprised of seat walls, multi-media public art walls, information panels, and sculptures. Conversely the ground plane edits the planar elements to link disparate spaces and streets to provide a continuous platform that permit and proliferate the flow of everyday urban life. Curating theCommon seeks to strengthen Lviv’s public life and activity within the core area, while bolstering its connectivity to the rest of the urban fabric into the greater Lviv metropolitan area.
Contributors: ATLAS Lab + Erik Prince
deDamming the Dutch Delta
Conceptual Master Plan
This project highlights how strategic adoption of hydrological dynamics can act as a major structuring foundation of urban form in the Dutch Delta region. The project proposes to open the Haringvliet Dam (a dam built as one of the Delta Works projects) in order to introduce the exchange of salt and freshwater for the reclamation of estuarine ecologies. Together with tidal dynamics, silt and sedimentation the ground is transformed with the accretion of the estuary’s most vital resource: mud. The mud flats host thousands of bivalve species, one of the basic building blocks of intertidal ecologies. The benthic and pelagic foodshed begin to thrive: plankton and bacteria, clams and crabs, smelt and salmon, beavers and seals, reeds and cattails, willows and poplars. It is a landscape where the dichotomies of wet and dry, sweet and salt dissolve, making room for an ecological gradient to emerge. Every living species co-exists, co-operates and co-develops across a range of hydrological zones, shoreline territories and intertidal time-scales. In the space of this geographic convergence and ecological systematization, a new aquatic habitat provides ground for proto-ecological processes to emerge and proto-urban conditions to spin-off. Closed, linear and engineered controls make way for the flexibility of soft systems. Ecology becomes infrastructural and the future of the city of Dordrecht becomes inseparable from the future of the estuary.
Contributor: Kimberly Garza + Sarah Thomas
New Jersey Turnpike
New Jersey’s rapid urban development has shifted land use patterns from forestlands and agriculture to suburbs, diminishing the State’s vast river network and compromising the quality of its primary residential water source. This project demonstrates the redistribution of land use patterns with respect to hydrological systems, and utilizes the New Jersey Turnpike ROW as an opportunity to reconceive and deploy binary relationships between built and hydrological systems as an urban and hydrological gradient.
Contributor: Kimberly Garza
Resilience in the Right of Way
Resilience in the Right of Way acknowledges the Ogallala as a threatened National natural resource and the paramount importance to the landscape and the culture that relies on it. Since the region is more then 90 percent privately owned with diverse ownership of the aquifer, a singular engineered or preservation based regional master plan to “save” the aquifer and sustain the region is wrought with problems. The project is not an attempt to save the aquifer but instead is a landscape strategy that seeds resilience for the aquifer dependant agriculture and couples these strategies with the dominant infrastructure investment of this region, the highway. This project builds upon a proposed highway trade corridor, the Ports to Plains Corridor, from Laredo, Texas to Denver, Colorado. Resilience in the Right of Way activates the Ports to Plains Corridor Right of Way, as an area of opportunity to mitigate the region’s potential crisis by initiating two principle strategies: 1) through storm-water capture and 2) the establishment of shelterbelts. In this scenario, the Right of Way is articulated to capture, treat and release water for the establishment and distribution of shelterbelts for the region. The proposed Port to Plains corridor intersects and transforms with the local conditions across the diverse longitudinal climate conditions to provide an infrastructural framework to crystallize resources and community, and provide the impetus for social, ecological and functional resiliency in the landscape. No longer linear, transportation networks become ecological frameworks —generating new urban ecologies, morphologies and multiple nodes of mobilities that support contemporary urban life.
Contributor: Erik Prince + Kimberly Garza
Play for All
The importance of usable open space has been well documented at various times and at various places throughout the world. For centuries small parks and playgrounds have functioned as vital social networking tools and places of reprieve from the city and home. When networked, these parks have the capability to provide and enhance transferences of the social ethos, strengthening bonds and establishing new ones. These peer-to-peer relationships, while often ignored, are a necessity to communities of any scale and location. Research has shown small open spaces to not only provide the infrastructural benefits, but also health benefits of lowering blood pressure, decreasing fear and anger and contributing to the education of children.
Given these benefits, this project develops a proposal for the Baan Tha Aj in Mae Sot School that is highly adaptable in terms of play and use, while establishing a new productive piece of infrastructure. The focal point of the design hinges around a specific typology of the playground that builds off of Aldo Van Eyck’s work in postwar Amsterdam. Van Eyck used the playground as a community node, recognizing its value, particularly in times of stress. Facilitating cross-generational interactions through multilayered programs allows for a more comprehensive daily use, engendering a social investment and care for this space. In the case of the Baan Tha Aj School these programs focus on active play, formal educational activities, gardening and shaded passive spaces.
The application of surfaces and elements into site, give the program physical form should be inventive and in some ways repetitive. Repeated elements take the base form of a raised tire, built from a stilt-work of bamboo poles. This element is repeated throughout the design and is manifested in 5 forms, varying in size and use. The simple structure may be used as a node of gardening and landscape or as a simple play structure, easily constructed and durable.
The surface is developed to both add interest, permitting a higher degree of creative play, and to create a sense of enclosure from the exterior of the site. Constructed with rammed earth technology, tires are integral to creating a stable and inexpensive retaining wall and elevation change. The displaced soil from the structure’s footing is used as fill to establish the amphitheater styles chutes. Through the overlay of the surfaces and elements a dynamic and adaptive play space is established, fostering spontaneous and creative play activities while allowing for an infusion of landscape and gardens.
Play spaces are not an extra item that can be ignored. As a part of the urban infrastructure, they are as essential as roads, bridges and utilities. As a part of the social fabric they are just as important as schools and hospitals, often providing similar functions.
Contributor: Andrew tenBrink
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
Contributor: Andrew tenBrink
6970 Urban Design Competition
Salt Lake City, UT
FLEX STREET establishes a strong identity for Main Street through the augmentation of existing sidewalks and vehicular lanes to create an active linear park corridor for Salt Lake City. SLC has created a bold vision to establish a cultural identity for the downtown core through public and private investments, transportation initiatives and short and long term sustainability goals. The redevelopment of 6970 is based on the need to cultivate a strong identity for the downtown core and generate a new urban typology that builds upon city initiatives and instigates an active public realm. FLEXSTREET proposes a robust master plan for the downtown that is integrated with the urban fabric, enhancing a sense of community while operating at multiple scales. A new street typology connects SLC’s disparate parts while anchoring the public realm that is rooted in the cultural arts, authentic to SLC. In parallel, existing transit lines provide opportunities for larger nodes along the corridor, established through a series of major destinations and in doing so, creating a “Cultural Circuit” as part of a larger, long-term vision for the City.