Landmark Design provided landscape architectural services for the Early Childhood Education and Research Center at Utah State University located in Logan, Utah. The facility provides classrooms for university students, offices for staff, and a school for children ages zero to five years old. Many of these children also have hearing impairments and other disabilities.
Landmark Design was responsible for the landscape design of the overall site, including a large play area, plazas, play fields, site landscaping, and a green roof. Landmark Design also detailed many custom site and play elements. Specific care was taken to involve university personnel and meet university and DFCM standards.
The play area for this project is approximately a half-acre in extent and was specially designed to involve the children in nature and provide open-ended play and learning opportunities. No traditional play equipment was implemented in the design.
Extensive research and collaboration was required to provide an experientially rich play area appropriate for very small children. Careful consideration was given to how infants, toddlers, and young children experience the environment using the full range of their senses. The project architect and university staff members were excited to give their support to this unique design approach.
Plants were selected for their water-conserving characteristic in addition to their aesthetic and educational appeal. Native plants were used extensively in the design, and the children’s play area received special attention. The play zone includes a dry stream that runs from east to west through the center of the play area, which provides a transition from the more design nearest the building and the natural and wild setting toward the project edges. As the stream moves from east to west it also moves through changing areas representative of the varying plant communities found in Utah.
The green roof enhances project aesthetics and sustainability while providing research opportunities for the university. A special planting plan was developed that is adapted to thrive in the Cache Valley climate and the harsh southern exposure of the rooftop. Most plants were selected for their proven success on similar roof gardens, while others were selected for their experimental characteristics to be monitored by the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning.