VIKA Design Teams in the Field

In Maryland and the District, almost every project we design has various Environmental Site Design (ESD) elements to treat and reduce runoff (such as green roof, bio-gardens and/or planters, etc.) As our Landscape Architecture Teams take on more oversight of the detailing of these elements, we believe it is important to keep track of construction and performance.  Thus, in late summer, our Landscape Architects from the Virginia, DC, and Maryland offices converged at the site of an ongoing VIKA Maryland project in Gaithersburg, Maryland.   The goal was to learn from current projects and encourage innovative solutions to integrate these elements into the site design concept.

Josh Sloan, Director of Planning and Landscape Architecture, began by sharing the vision for our landscape architecture studios, as our design practice is growing faster than most other components of our company.  For this overview, we held our meeting in the lounge area of the Crown Farm community center, known as The Retreat, where were able to view the next two phases of development currently in the schematic design phase.  Crown Farm is a mixed-use development about half complete, while the second have is being designed and entitled by the engineering and landscape architecture groups from VIKA Maryland.


After sharing the vision and some current projects on the boards, the Team convoyed to sites under construction to discuss how the design process, design challenges, solutions, and lessons learned materialized into finished works.


At our first stop, Steve Cook explains how these roadside micro-bioretention structures at West Side Shady Grove Station by EYA were precast off-site and then set in place.  And how the connection of the structures and inlet grates will be completed after the site is stabilized.


Nearby, the transition of the porous paver running bond pattern to a herringbone pattern below shows one solution in detailing paver layout when confronted with a tight radius.


Looking at another stormwater feature, Doug Koeser and Steve Cook get into their work (these plants are primarily Wax Myrtle and Switchgrass) and some finer points of micro-bioretention design.  This larger structure below provides opportunities for a palette of larger and more varied plant material. Also discussed was the importance of maintaining safety measures to reduce the risk of falling because of its proximity to adjacent to walkways.


The roadside micro bio-retention features at Montgomery Row by EYA in Bethesda, MD are more urban than Shady Grove Station and required full pedestrian access around each feature to accommodate on-street parking and access along the townhome frontage. Note the score joint placement, decorative grates and planting that accent the edges, create rhythm and hierarchy.


Josh Sloan marvels over the size of this micro bio-retention structure designed to manage roof runoff from adjacent townhomes. The filter media is about 6’ deep and will be home for a community of herbaceous and woody plant materials that, when combined with the soil microbes, will help convert pollutants into more benign substances, filter suspended solids, and slow runoff.


The promenade below at Montgomery Row serves as a fire access lane, walking path, and bike lane. The placement of tree notches, scoring and finish help make the multi-use path a valuable site amenity.


Free of our safety gear, the design team returns to Crown neighborhood 2 in Gaithersburg, Maryland in route to Paladar for happy  hour.  This image shows a different bio-retention design – a bioswale – afforded by a broader tree panel section where we could grade to the base without side walls.