2016 Honor Award by the ASLA Ohio Chapter

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2016 Honor Award by the ASLA Ohio Chapter

It is with immense pride and joy that POD Design has been awarded the 2016 Honor Award by the ASLA Ohio Chapter for the Cincinnati Nature Center’s Marge and Charles Schott Nature PlayScape.  This prestigious award was announced at the ASLA gala event.  

The Cincinnati Nature Center's Marge and Charles Schott Nature PlayScape provides a unique environment for children of all ages to play, build, explore, and learn. As a result of thoughtful planning and design by the team, the PlayScape reflects the local landscape, micro climate, and multiple natural habitats. Challenged to create an interactive natural play space, the design advocated for maximizing the use of local resources and showed the client how it not only stretched the budget, but created a truly immersive natural environment where kids were not only free, but encouraged to leave no rock unturned. 

Owner/Client:             Cincinnati Nature Center, 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford Ohio 45150 - Bill Hopple, Director

Project Type:              General Design | Constructed

Date of Completion:   Winter 2010 (Opening Date: Fall 2011)

 

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Student award for Cleveland/Akron Office

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Student award for Cleveland/Akron Office

We are proud to share that Dion Harris of the Cleveland/Akron POD Design office was part of the team awarded a National American Planning Association and American Institute of Planners student project award for their “Contribution of Planning to Contemporary Issues.”  The comprehensive planning project for the Final Graduate Planning class studied the area of Downtown Cleveland near the west bank of the Flats that the team dubbed “Irishtown Greenway” and provided recommendations for the client, The Trust for Public Land.  Their strategic plan to create the lake link part of the Ohio Towpath Trail was presented through three focus areas: greenway, development, and marketing, which ultimately provided extensive design perspective and value to breathe new life into this historic area.  

 

Take a look at the full recommendations and development plan at http://www.irishtowngreenway.org/

Irishtown Greenway Conceptual Master Plan

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Creating a Nature Play Area on a Tight Budget

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Creating a Nature Play Area on a Tight Budget

Our childhood most likely includes memories of playing outside.  Many of us explored a wooded area, waded in a creek, ran through a field, and hid from friends in tall grass.  While those places still exist, they unfortunately don't seem to be nearly as accessible to our children as they once were.  As park professionals and planners, there are small steps that we can take to help bring nature into our children’s lives that won’t take a tremendous amount of effort…or money.

 

What exactly is Nature Play?

A nature play area is an intentionally designed, dynamic, vegetation-rich play environment that nurtures a child’s affinity for nature. A true nature play area will always have at least one of the following components: wood, stone, living plants, water, sand or mud. While you don’t need to have all of the components to begin your nature play area, consider including as many as you can. Taking the first step to build a nature play area is always the toughest part, but in many cases all of the resources that you need may already be on your site and at your disposal.

 

Five easy steps to creating a nature play area.

·         Trail Blazing – In many cases, providing access to a specific area is enough to get people to use it. Cutting a trail directly to a wooded area or mowing a path through a meadow provides people with a direct route to access natural areas. Making them ADA accessible is always encouraged, but in some cases may not be possible.

·         Got Slope? – Use existing or manipulated topography whenever you can. On a small scale, use un-level grades or landforms to allow children to run up or roll down a grassy slope or hillside. On a larger scale, take advantage of a swale, ravine or creek bed (wet or dry) and allow kids to collect, divert and play in the water, dirt or mud.

·         Recycle and Reclaim – All park districts and communities deal with the removal of trees due to disease or weather related events. The stumps, trunks and branches from these trees provide an almost endless supply of material for tree forts, log steppers, balance beams and decorative benches. Large stones and boulders excavated from construction projects can also be reused as stepping stones, small climbing walls, ditch crossings and seating for outdoor classrooms.

·         Promote Tree Hugging – Strategically layout your nature play area around existing trees, as shade is always in high demand. Consider planting a grove of fruit trees, as they will provide beautiful flowers and attract wildlife in the spring, fruit in the fall and understory play all year.

·         Go Native – One of the most cost effective ways for children to engage wildlife is to install native plant material for pollination, nectar and feeding. Select deer resistant species and purchase plant material in bare root form or plugs to save money. Planting native species can provide an exciting play environment for children while yielding minimal long-term maintenance.

 

Try and seek out unique, natural characteristics within your parks and take advantage of them when you can. You’ll be surprised at the tools that nature has provided you with and how popular these areas will become.

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Community Cultivation

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Community Cultivation

Sharon Floro, of POD Design, collaborated with Greater Cincinnati Master Gardeners and Wyoming City Schools for a student led design of an Outdoor Learning Environment.

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First Place NEST Award

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First Place NEST Award

 

                POD is honored to have been selected as the first place recipients of the 2015 NEST competition. This is a friendly fundraiser organized by Neighborhood Design Center, in which design firms and students are asked to construct a birdhouse for a bird of their choosing.

                This was a fun opportunity to create a space for a smaller client, in this case the House Wren. As with any client we focused on their specific needs, trying to be resourceful and innovative with our design process. We appreciated the opportunity to break from our nests – sorry, desks – and spread our wings. Through a luncheon design charrette, the office whittled down several creative designs to a simple and familiar form that makes the most of the least. The following is our submission, we hope you enjoy! And Thanks again to the Neighborhood Design Center!

As POD is currently expanding our own 'nest', we sought to use found and recycled materials from our office construction to build and inspire our birdhouse. Everything used came from within our office, from reclaimed barn-wood siding to coffee k-cups used to hold the sedum greenroof.  For the form we studied various geometries for construction, settling on a triangular configuration for its strength and minimal use of materials. The entrance is formed by leaving the roof plane just shy of completing the triangle, forming an eave in which Wren are accustomed to nesting. The angle of this slotted entrance also discourages predator access, protecting the Wren family. The mini greenroof can be used by the female wren to finish her mate’s nest of twigs within. Our birdhouse can be placed easily on any vertical surface, such as a fence post within the garden. Wren’s spend a great deal of time in shrubs and brush, which our birdhouse resembles in both materials and color, making this a comfortable nesting location to relax and raise a brood.

We look forward to participating in next year’s competition and are eager to see what amazing designs will be presented.

 

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The Need for Nature In Play

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The Need for Nature In Play

What ever happened to the environments we all remember playing in as children? It seems that whenever you open the latest manufactured play equipment catalog your senses are bombarded by plastic and metal structures meant to emulate some futuristic sculpture surrounded by vast open areas of mulch or rubber safety surfacing. While these playground elements have their place we believe that most of us have fond memories of playing in the woods, digging in the dirt, or exploring streams. These are the places that afforded us the settings in which we could run, climb, pretend, or hide.

 

At the 2015 Ohio Parks and Recreation Conference and Tradeshow, our team of design and education professionals will be presenting The Need for Nature in Play.  The presenters, who recently collaborated on the development of Marge and Charles Schott Nature PlayScape at the Cincinnati Nature Center, are Landscape Architects Steve Kolwicz and Sharon Floro, along with Dr. Victoria Carr, whose current focus studies how children learn through play in designed outdoor environments.  Using the Nature PlayScape as a case study, this team will demonstrate how we have the ability to positively impact generations of children through contact with nature.  Building on the important discourse for more successful play environments that studies have shown reduced stress, decreased rates of behavioral disorders and other positive health benefits for children who interact with green spaces.

 

This team of experts believes that we can have the best of both worlds in creating engaging outdoor environments for children of all abilities. We believe we can create unique play environments by combining carefully selected manufactured components with natural features of hills, pathways, plants, open spaces, water, boulders, sand and more. We can create places for discovery, adventure and reflection; places that inspire the imagination, stimulate the senses and introduce children to natural wonders that surround them. And we can create them together through a collaborative design process that includes children, parents, teachers, recreation professionals and designers.

 

BIOS

Dr. Victoria Carr, Associate Professor in Early Childhood Education and Human Development at the University of Cincinnati, is Director of the Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center where she serves as Executive Director for the Head Start Delegate program in the laboratory preschool. She is co-founder of the Nature Playscape Initiative and Senior Editor for Arlitt Instructional Media. Dr. Carr studies teacher efficacy, children with challenging behaviors, and outdoor environments for play and learning. Her research on informal science learning in playscapes was supported by the National Science Foundation. Currently, she is expanding that playscape research to include a focus on additional aspects of early development and learning, including STEM learning, social interactions, and connecting primary school-aged children to nature via Minecraft video gaming. She serves on local advisory boards for Cincinnati Nature Center and 4C for Children.

 

Steve Kolwicz, Principal and co-founder of POD Design. In his twenty years as a landscape architect in private practice, Mr. Kolwicz has made an early impact with creative solutions to a diversity of design challenges.  He has assisted communities throughout Ohio in the planning and design of parks, open spaces, recreational facilities, and PlayScapes. From initial public input sessions and concept development, through design development and construction detailing Steve understands the many complex issues that occur throughout the life of a park, playground or open space project. He was a participant in the 2009 PlayScapes Fellowship conducted by the Natural Learning Initiative and University of Cincinnati, and has lead the design and implementation for numerous award winning facilities including: Millstone Creek Nature Play in Westerville, Ohio, Gentile Park in Kettering, Ohio, The Sisters’ Garden at Inniswood Metro Park of Franklin County Metro Parks, the Honda Wetland Education Area at Glacier Ridge Park of Franklin County Metro Parks and the OPRA Governors Award winning Green Veterans Memorial Park.

 

Sharon Floro, Senior Project Manager with POD Design.  Sharon’s projects range from mini pocket parks and PlayScapes to large scale system-wide master plans.  Most importantly, Sharon understands the important role that open space plays within the fabric of the community and the natural habitat.  She was a participant in the 2009 PlayScapes Fellowship conducted by the Natural Learning Initiative and University of Cincinnati and as an extension of that program served as the prime team principal for the Marge & Charles Schott Nature PlayScape at Cincinnati Nature Center.  Additional design accomplishments include the City of Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Avenue streetscape rain garden system, construction documentation of the University of Cincinnati’s Arlitt Child & Family Research & Education Center PlayScape, master planning and play setting design for Historic Glendale Elementary School, Rothenberg Elementary School and Woodlawn Elementary School,  and design of the Doherty School Children’s Playground Garden.

 

**Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Nature Center

 

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POD Design announces the hiring of Sharon A. Floro, RLA, ASLA

POD Design announces the hiring of Sharon A. Floro, RLA, ASLA, to manage its new satellite studio, serving the Greater Cincinnati region. Sharon worked in various multi-disciplinary design companies prior to her last firm, where she owned and managed GroundWork Design Cincinnati LLC for 12 years. As a celebrated illustrator and an astute advocate for integrating native planting, she enjoys the success in designing outdoor places where children get up-close to nature. Some of the notable completed local projects she managed: the Marge & Charles Schott Nature PlayScape at the Cincinnati Nature Center, the Spring Grove/Clifton Ave. Streetscape Rain Gardens, and the Cloister Courtyard Garden at the Church of the Redeemer.

The Lane Residential in Upper Arlington Nears Completion

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POD Design prepared concepts and builder’s set plans for courtyard amenities at The Lane in Upper Arlington, Ohio. Specific program elements include resident common space with grille, fire and water features, outdoor lounge areas, synthetic lawn spaces, raised planters, landscape lighting, irrigation, etc. POD Design also created a short animation of the project to showcase the design and surrounding neighborhood. Click Here to visit the project web site.

Two Columbus Sprayground Projects Win Award

Blackburn and Indian Mound Park received the 2012 Park Facility Award from the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA). During the design process POD Design led several neighborhood association meetings. This allowed POD to discuss the preliminary ideas for both parks to the public and get feedback. Coordination was also done with staff and patrons of each recreation center. During the construction process, POD Design and City of Columbus informed the public of opening day festivities and had weekly construction meetings in order to meet that time frame. Mayor Michael Coleman dedicated both projects with the local news and community members present.