Cunningham Quill’s commitment to sustainability and urban agriculture has been demonstrated in numerous urban design / master planning projects (including recently in our Charlottesville Strategic Investment Area Plan – 2013). Earlier this fall, Cunningham Quill’s staff members demonstrated first hand that facet of our firm culture in giving back to community through the DC Building Industry Association’s Community Improvement Day (DCBIA-CID). This year’s project brought new life to the Lederer Gardens and Environmental Learning Center in Washington, D.C. Over 800 volunteers (architects, designers, developers, engineers, contractors, and residents), gathered to help transform this park over the course of one cloudy Saturday on September 28th, 2013. The park, located off Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue NE and the Marvin Gaye Trail, includes a learning center that hosts summer classes for neighborhood children, and open plots in the garden that members of the community can rent to plant their own vegetables. Over the years, the learning center has grown in popularity and has been in need of expansion.
The DCBIA-CID design process began in March 2013 with design team meetings and site visits. This effort brought together members from local firms and companies, working in conjunction with the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation. The site was divided into zones each with its own lead designers.
The Cunningham|Quill team led the design effort in the garden. CQA staff members Anton Markin, Carol Vanderbosch, Allison Gorman, and Heather Rao worked with intern landscape architect Lyn Wenzel to propose various design options ultimately culminating in a sophisticated garden area site plan. The team’s plans expanded the growing area into underutilized adjacent open space, and placed cedar timbers around each new plot to clearly define borders and pathways. Raised beds were also introduced into the garden to make the space more accessible for all members of the community.
The eastern entrance to the new garden area is now marked by a large wooden pavilion which provides a shaded gathering space, as well as an opportunity to collect rainwater. The hinged roof funnels water down the center ridge line into a gutter that drains into a series of connected rain barrels which can then be used to water the surrounding garden plots. Other features of the garden include a new composting bin, storage benches and improved, colorful graphics throughout the site. Highlights from the surrounding work zones include: a lookout deck near the creek bank, new pavers by the main entrance and the eastern bus stop entrance, new plantings and the clearing away of overgrown shrubs and debris. After months of planning, the complete vision came together with tireless volunteers eager to give back to the DC community.