Living Learning Community
The newest dormitory structure at the UNR campus is the Living Learning Community Building. Planning began four years ago, with Lumos providing landscape architectural services to CDS architects in Reno. The five story, 3.5 million dollar project for 320 students encourages student participation in “floor communities.” It is one of the few such facilities in the US, and it combines both classrooms and faculty offices in the same building. Students are assigned to the same floor based on core classes they have in common, and faculty offices relevant to this core classes are in close proximity.
The exterior layout encourages student interaction, with a sunny courtyard sheltered from the wind, grouped benches, and central lawn area. Lumos prepared preliminary sketch plans for several options in the pedestrian courtyard including bike racks, benches, and raised planters. Large street trees along South Virginia St. were planted to bring the massive building scale down to a more pedestrian level feel. Plant types were coordinated with UNR staff and maintenance personnel to ensure they are able to properly care for the landscaping. Minimal lawn areas were proposed, with an emphasis on rock mulches and low maintenance plants around the building exterior. A dry stream bed was planned on the north side of the building to convey drainage away from the building to North Virginia Street, where a settling basin slows the water down and infiltrates before the excess water enters the storm drain. Typical for building construction the landscaping was installed just in time for the dedication lunch, where we were all treated to a great bar-be-cue and the coldest late spring weather Reno has to offer.
The building opened to its first class of students the last week of August, and has received very positive comments from both students and UNR staff.
Canada/Nye Hall Plaza
This project began as a parking lot removal and quickly transformed into a much needed “front yard” pedestrian plaza. Fire access to the two existing dorm buildings was critical, as was keeping car and truck loading away from the building entries. Lumos provided concept sketches and landscape architectural services to CDS architects, who detailed all of the hardscape treatments.
The design intent was to create an area that was free of parking, where students could socialize, recreate, hang out, listen to live music, and of course study when time allows. The plan included a fire access loop with concrete pavers bordered by a large central lawn area. There were secondary existing lawn area and planters at the building edges that were retained during construction. Trees were planted around the plaza perimeter to provide shade and soften the overall look of the surrounding nine story halls and parking garage. Additional bench and wall seating were constructed for students waiting for friends or sitting and listening to music. Pedestrian lights replaced the large overhead parking lights that caused glare in the upper floor windows. An under pavement heating system was also added to the north side of Nye Hall to alleviate the severe icing issues in the winter. Lumos coordinated with CDS to complete both the initial conceptual site plan and the final landscape / irrigation plans. Eliminating parking on a college campus is never popular, but this project was the exception, given the fantastic student space it created.
The plaza opened at the end of August in time for dorm move-in and was home to a block party for new freshmen and students returning for the current school year.