555 Ellis Street

The 555 Ellis Street multi-family housing project showcases the good a nonprofit developer can accomplish in helping to revitalize blighted neighborhoods. 555 Ellis provides safe, affordable housing for singles, young families, older professionals, and the elderly. Facilities for child care, education, and job training are also available on site. 555 Ellis is an example of a project that is leading the way for the renewal of the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco.

Orsee Design Associates developed schematic and master plan designs, construction documents and provided construction oversight. The goal of the landscape design at 555 Ellis is not only to develop an aesthetically pleasing garden, but to provide a place that is special to its users. The narrow site constraints helped create garden "rooms" while allowing access to all ages and abilities. The results include a ground-level courtyard which provides the main entry into the garden. Designed with an emphasis on the unique environment of San Francisco, the garden provides for a wide variety of color, shape, textural and seasonal variety. The garden provides a brief respite from city life as residents may gather in the community areas or spend time in the private, contemplative space of the side garden.

Taking full advantage of the space provided on the building's rooftop, a community garden provides an inviting place for residents to socialize and grow their own food and flowers. The design on the rooftop community garden utilizes lightweight concrete planter boxes set on a pedestal system to accommodate drainage, specialized irrigation systems, site furnishings, fencing, fruit trees, colorful shrubs, and vines.

The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resources Center

As an integral part of the Smithsonian Institution's continuing development, the National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resources Center provides a home for the one million artifacts while respecting the cultural continuum and the inter-connectedness of the past, present and future for all Native Americans. Through thoughtful integration of built forms and the surrounding landscape, the design team was determined to reinforce the organic unity between the natural and built environment while creating a welcoming environment for visitors. The final design for the Center also supports the functional unity of the developing Smithsonian Campus.

As a member of the Native American Design Collaborative, Orsee Design Associates provided landscape architectural design review, irrigation design, and irrigation construction documents for the Center. Throughout the design process, Orsee Design labored to assure compliance with the Native American Design Collaborative's guidelines.

Overall concepts of the landscape architectural design development were to effectively express the Native American connection to the land. To aid in expressing this relationship, Orsee Design Associates' review and input concentrated on all features of the landscape, including trail designation, plaza development, water feature design, and creation of ceremonial spaces. Special consideration was given to developing a plant palette consisting of plant materials indigenous to the region prior to European contact. Natural plant community secession and
special irrigation and horticultural practices were also given significant consideration.

Hayward City Center Complex

In response to an overwhelming need for a City Center, over a decade of planning went into the Hayward City Center Complex. Comprised of commercial, professional, and municipal government offices, luxury condominium housing, outdoor public space, and a Civic Convention Center, the final design resulted in a truly functional complex that now anchors the Downtown Core and acts as a major entryway to the city of Hayward off Highway 580.

Planned landscape and site amenities serve to visually enhance and unify the various buildings, outdoor spaces and entrances on the site. These spatial elements included: an 11-story professional building, three multilevel parking structures, a 7-story office building, a three story office building, a bank and a Civic Convention Center. All of these elements, with their specific political, functional, visual and engineering requirements, presented numerous design constraints and challenges that had to be fully understood and technically addressed.

Major features of the finished project included design for the central plaza and fountain surrounded by a colonnade with raised planters, decorative seating and site furnishings. Arbors provide human scale and the opportunity to soften hard edges with the use of climbing vines. Plans for a roof deck were also developed, along with multilevel planters which provided for integration of the various landscape elements on all three elevation levels. Decorative paving patterns and lighting aesthetics serve to ties all structures together in an intimate pedestrian environment. Steep slopes proved to be one of the most challenging design requirements and included specialized plantings, irrigation and erosion control.