A community garden is born at Bay Meadows! Say hello to Persimmon Park, built to plant roots, mix, mingle and grow. Learn about the thoughtful design by our partners at CMG Landcape Architecture that went into this dynamic community space. Get to know Pamela Conrad, Professional Landscape Architect (PLA), who recently took some time from her busy schedule to give us a behind the scenes look at Persimmon Park and much more:
What inspired you to begin a career in Landscape Architecture?
Pamela: I was fortunate to spend my childhood exploring fields and planting gardens on a farm in the Midwest, which instilled in me a deep appreciation of nature and the outdoors. At a very young age I knew I wanted that connection to not only to be a part of my life, but to also create similar experiences for others. Through landscape architecture, we are able to provide opportunities for people to connect with their surroundings and community, which is very fulfilling!
The goal at Bay Meadows is to promote street life and increase social interaction. What are the central design elements to support a more social experience?
1. Variety of activities
2. Elements that provide comfort in the outdoors (shade, seating etc.)
3. Diverse Scale of Spaces
4. Access and opportunities for a range of user groups and ability levels
At Persimmon Park, the site is divided into outdoor “rooms” that offer a variety of seating, gardening, lounging, and playing opportunities. All spaces were carefully studied to promote social interaction, be it having a large birthday gathering at the 34’ long dining table, preparing a BBQ with a group of a few friends, gardening with your neighbor, or just strolling along the path.
Are you able to describe the philosophy behind Persimmon Park in particular?
Pamela: Persimmon Park is a place where the community can come together – to learn about growing their own food, to share stories, to experiment, and grow together. Persimmon Park is a place to grow community.
What are some of the current trends you are seeing in Landscape Design in terms of community interaction or experience?
Pamela: The “Farm to Table” movement is making its way into site design. At Persimmon Park you can grow your veggies in the planter boxes, grill them on the BBQ, and serve them on the communal table. It is the next best thing to actually being on a farm. Also, “Nature Play” opportunities have been gaining recognition over the last decade as a way of reconnecting our children with the natural environment. At Persimmon Park, children have the opportunity to touch, smell and explore the artistic tree creations of Evan Shively from Arborica – which combines environmental learning with fun! CMG has been integrating community gardening into projects for years and we’re great proponents of natural play environments – making Persimmon Park an ideal canvas for us.
What’s been the most significant change in landscape design at mixed-use/TOD properties over the last 7 years?
Pamela: In the past, these developments focused primarily on proximity to transit. Today, the focus has expanded to providing a quality public realm within the development that makes people want to stay.
Can you spotlight some of the eco-friendly/green features that were taken into consideration in the design?
Sustainable Planting. The plant palette is a mosaic of California natives, edible plants, and resilient species – requiring little to no water and providing food sources to residents. Turf planting is minimized to reduce water and maintenance needs.
Reclaimed Materials. Sculpture designed by artist Evan Shively is made from salvaged eucalyptus trees, and the dining table is made from reclaimed redwood – preventing overharvesting and providing those trees with a second life.
Stormwater Management. Stormwater from the entire site is treated through bio-filters before draining into the Bay Meadows Park pond. This water body supports a variety of biological habitats and is designed to handle stormwater for the region, not just the development. This design preceded State stormwater guidelines established in 2010, which makes it one of the largest modern examples of green infrastructure implementation.
How would you personally spend a morning or afternoon as a resident at Bay Meadows?
Pamela: As a runner, in the mornings I would take advantage of the entire park network that stretches over the 80 acre site, traveling along the tree-lined streets and looping through each of the parks. The scale of the site is perfect for getting exercise in a pedestrian friendly environment. In the afternoon or evenings, I imagine strolling to Persimmon Park with my husband and two dogs, catching-up over the day’s events, and playing a bit of fetch on the lawn.
Just for fun…
4 elements/items you’ll find in my own landscape: Succulents. Herbs. BBQ. Play space for dogs.
Site re-generation inspires me.
Favorite element at Persimmon Park: The trellis and the dining table combo – labored over by the talented designers Kevin Conger and Greg Barger of CMG.
Current obsession: My work – I’m lucky that I love what I do.
3 words I’d use to describe Bay Meadows: Livable. Social. Green.
Growing up I dreamed of being: A landscape architect, of course! (No joke, my career started at age 13.)
As we develop community, we want to see how you live or play at Bay Meadows. Share your fun lifestyle photos with our community by using #baymeadowslife in our Fame x Frame Photo Contest. You could WIN $50 or our Grand Prize of $500 at the end of 2014 and be featured in a live pop-up photo gallery exhibit. Click here for official rules. Each month, Bay Meadows will select one photo to WIN a $50 gift card at Whole Foods Market San Mateo. Simply hop on instagram or twitter at tag us using #baymeadowslife or submit up to 10 photos per month to photos@BayMeadows.com .