#ProjectUpdate - RISD Ewing Multicultural Center

The Ewing Multicultural Center is an important site on RISD's campus - it is home to the office of Inter-cultural Student Engagement and serves as a small gathering space for RISD's many clubs and organizations.  Its central location and proximity to important buildings on campus make it a high foot traffic area, but it is also one of the few quiet outdoor spaces where students can stop and rest amid the bustle of their day. Years of wear and tear on the steep site led to deteriorated conditions, so SDG was asked to improve the safety and accessibility of the upper terrace leading to lower Frazier Terrace by replacing the steep, uneven paths. This project will be completed in the Spring.

Infrastructure and the Providence River

This historic image shows the river when it was 70% paved over, before the mid-1980s when the River Relocation Project began. Watch the video to see how the river looks now.

#PVD has done a lot to re-purpose old infrastructure. The Providence River in downtown was once covered by a multi-lane road and is now a beautiful asset for the community. #Waterfire has become a major tourist destination and revenue generator for the city. Providence is a supporter of #parkingday which brings pop-up parks into downtown in the Fall each year. We also have a state-wide network of bike trails, many of which are old railways. What infrastructure repurposing project should Providence focus on next? Underpass parks along the 6-10 corridor? More parks in the I-195 redevelopment? Watch the video, created by Nicholas Lin, to see the Providence River as it is today. The video starts where the old I-195 ramp was and travels up river, before turning back to where it started. 

Upcoming Rhode Island ASLA Events: SITES Training and Green RI

RI ASLA has some great events coming up!  Our Associate Principal, Melissa Bagga, is involved with organizing these events as President Elect of the RI ASLA chapter:

1.  URI Bay Campus (215 South Ferry Rd., Narragansett, RI, 02882) will be hosting a three-part training series explaining The Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES). REGISTER HERE. SITES is a system for evaluating the sustainable success of a landscape architecture project (similar to LEED for architecture.)  Part One (February 14th) will be an introduction to SITES and SITES v2 and will cover Analysis & Planning.  Part 2 (February 28th) will cover Soil & Vegetation and Water & Materials.  Part 3 (March 21st) will cover Human Health, Education & Performance, Construction, O&M Innovation.  These events will take place from 8:30am - 12:30pm and will be presented by Steve Benz of SITE Green Solutions, LLC.  This event is part of the RIASLA continuing education series and will aid in preparing participants to take the SITES AP exam.  ASLA Member price = $250.  Non-member price = $325.

2.  Green RI will take place at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center (1000 Elmwood Ave. Providence, RI) on May 4th.  This event will feature presentations and a Sustainable Design Showcase.   RI ASLA is working with AIAri and IIDA New England Chapter to host this event. More details to come. 


Roger Williams Park Botanical Center

Roger Williams Park Botanical Center

We're moving to Pawtucket!

After over 40 years in our cozy basement office it is time for a change. We will be moving to Hope Artiste Village the first week in January. As sad as we are to leave, we're looking forward to having a more open floor plan that allows for the firm’s expansion. Stay tuned for an upcoming open house in the new space.

Our phone number remains the same: 401-272-5783

All the best this holiday season and see you in 2017!

Taber + Melissa + Colgate
Searle Design Group, LLC

Happy Thanksgiving from SDG!

This year at Searle Design Group we're thankful for all the past, present and upcoming opportunities to better serve our community through design.

Wishing you all a happy holiday.

Colgate surveying a residential project last week with a stunning view!

Colgate surveying a residential project last week with a stunning view!

Landscape Architecture survey (please take and pass along)

The American Society of Landscape Architects is looking for both men and women to complete a survey to help them better understand the topic of talent retention by gender and race. What are the underlying tensions that persist throughout our professional lives and what are the professional and personal milestones that affect career progression. Please take the survey, and pass it along to other current or former landscape architects, both MEN and WOMEN. We think this will be extremely valuable information.

Complete the WILA Survey

SDG Launches First Quarterly Newsletter!

At Searle Design Group we take pride in doing work that is environmentally and culturally sensitive.  To better serve the communities we design for, we want to share our work and engage in discourse on issues that we think are important.  We've launched a quarterly newsletter to keep you up-to-date on our design and construction projects, and promote topics we care about.

The first issue, sent out today, includes:

Completed Projects

  •       Handicraft Club Master Plan
  •       Woods-Gerry Master Plan
  •       RISD President's House

SDG Highlights

  •       PARK(ing) Day PVD
  •       DESIGNxRI

In the News:

  • Vote Yes on 6 and Smart Growth Handbook      
  • Presidential candidates answer questions about climate change

If you missed our inaugural letter today, shoot us an e-mail at office@searledesigngroup.com and we'll add you to the list!

Join us in voting for the #GreenEconomyBond2016 on #ElectionDay!

The Green Economy bond, supported by the Grow Smart RI organization, recognizes Rhode Island's natural assets as its most valuable economic strength.  This bond aims to put $35 million into protecting our lands and waters while building healthier communities.  

Get informed! Check out these Resources:

The Green Economy Bond 2016 Fact Sheet

Smart Growth Briefing Book for Candidates and Voters 2016 Edition

Grow Smart Rhode Island


A Visit to Crosby Arboretum in Mississippi #ASLA2016Expo

This week Taber and Melissa are at the American Society of Landscape Architects annual conference in New Orleans.  The Expo is an opportunity for members of the profession from across the country to gather and contribute to current discourse.  

Today the SDG team toured the beautiful Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, MS.  The master plan and landscape design for the Arboretum won the ASLA Honor Award in 1985 among many other accolades for its quality of design and cultural as well as ecological services.

"The Crosby Arboretum is dedicated to educating the public about their environment. This mission is carried out by preserving, protecting, and displaying plants native to the Pearl River Drainage Basin ecosystem, providing environmental and botanical research opportunities, and offering cultural, scientific, and recreational programs. The Arboretum displays three basic habitats found in this ecosystem. They are a Savanna exhibit, a Woodland exhibit, and an Aquatic exhibit. Both drastic and subtle changes in landscape patterns can be observed within each exhibit. In addition to the 104-acre interpretive site, the Arboretum also collectively maintains 700 acres of off-site natural areas that are preserved for scientific study."

Stay tuned for more adventures from down South!

SDG Project to be honored at #2016RhodyAwards for #HistoricPreservation

Every year Preserve Rhode Island and The Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission team up to honor a few locals who have had an impact on preserving Rhode Island's rich history.  

This year TAI-O Real Estate Group is being recognized for their work on Elizabeth Webbing, Central Falls.  Searle Design Group contributed to this collaborative effort to convert a historically important 1824 mill building into new apartments.  SDG's design operated within historic preservation guidelines to create a park-like landscape surrounding the converted mill, which was completed in 2008.  

The reception and awards ceremony celebrating the eleven Rhody Award projects this year will take place on Sunday, November 16 at Rosecliff in Newport.  If you are interested in celebrating Rhode Island's unique cultural heritage with us at this event, click here.

How much is a tree worth? $$

Trees do a lot more than provide shade and look pretty.  For example, according to the National Tree Benefit Calculator, the 31" diameter Little Leaf Linden (Tilia cordata) outside our office provides $108 in benefits per year divided among stormwater filtration, energy production, improving air quality, and atmospheric CO2 reduction.  If you're interested in how much a particular tree is worth, find out its species and trunk diameter and visit:  http://www.treebenefits.com/calculator/

Little Leaf Linden (Tilia cordata)

Little Leaf Linden (Tilia cordata)

Happy Birthday #RIASLA !!

For the past 30 years, the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects has been working towards its mission to “...promote the profession of landscape architecture and advance the practice through advocacy, education, communication, and fellowship.”  

The RIASLA provides support and networking opportunities for students and professional landscape architects alike, including two student chapters - one at the University of Rhode Island and a brand new chapter at the Rhode Island School of Design. 

The chapter is celebrating its birthday with dinner at the Ocean Cliff Hotel and Resort in Newport this Thursday night.

Happy #DesignWeekRI!

DesignWeek (September 14-25) is an annual celebration of Rhode Island's unique community of designers put on by DESIGNxRI.  A series of events, lectures, tours, awards, and informal talks spotlight local talent and innovation.

Yesterday, one of Searle Design Group's Principals, Taber Caton hosted an Eat & Speak Luncheon at Roger Williams Park Botanical Center.  Taber gave a talk about SDG's master plan for the center which was implemented in 2010. The Botanical Center is New England's largest indoor garden.  SDG's master plan expanded the indoor garden to the exterior grounds, boasting a wide variety of diverse plant communities featuring both native and adaptive plants to create a sustainable vision for the overall grounds. Taber also talked about how this project achieved ADA accessibility in spite of the challenge of working with steep terrain.  Those who attended this event saw the original master plan and listened to Taber speak about the first three phases of construction before embarking on a tour of the grounds. The beautifully maintained gardens would not exist in such great condition today without the help of the volunteers of the Botanical Center Conservancy and Providence Parks and Recreation.

#PARK(ing) Day Highlights

Thank you to everyone who stopped by our PARK(ing) Day installation on Friday!  We had a blast talking to the community about climate change, the role of landscape architects in resiliency planning, and how we can make positive changes for the future. For those of you who missed it, here are the highlights from the day:

We talked to passers-by about current sea level rise projections and what that means for Providence and Rhode Island. In turn they shared their thoughts and ideas with us on index cards and added them to our wall of hope throughout the day, creating a colorful mosaic. Some of our younger participants added to our chalk art of Rhode Island on the ground. Sailing flags spelling out H-O-P-E hung below the banners on the sidewalk.  We used inundation-tolerant plant species to catch people's attention and make an attractive and informative display. The signage shows maps of sea level projections in Providence for 2050 and 2100 and talks about the causes, effects, and solutions to the problems coastal cities like Providence are facing.


DesignWeek by DESIGNxRI September 14 - 25

As one of the local design talents being spotlighted this year, our very own Taber Caton will be giving a lecture and tour of Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. Searle Design Group completed the Master Plan for the center in 2010 to implement sustainable updates to the exterior grounds of New England's largest indoor garden.

This event is taking place THIS THURSDAY September 22 at noon at Roger Williams Park, 1000 Elmwood Avenue in Providence, RI and is SOLD OUT as of today. Click here to learn more.

Progress in the Fight Against #climatechange @PARK(ing)DayPVD! #sealevelrise #oceanstate #renewableenergy #sustainablepower

Climate Change is not all doom and gloom - while we still have a long way to go to return the Earth's climate to a sustainable condition, there are some positive developments. One of our greatest successes to date is the increased feasibility and implementation of renewable energy sources. 

Rhode Island is a leader in renewable wind energy. The Block Island Wind Farm is the nation's first offshore wind farm. The project is small, consisting of five turbines capable of powering about 17,000 homes, but symbolic.  You can read more about it here: http://nyti.ms/2bbYh97

In 2000, 9.4% of the United States' generated power came from renewable sources (solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and biomass). By 2013 this percentage increased to 13.1%. The biggest game changer among these has been the increased use of wind power.  In 2006, Rhode Island had the ability to produce 1 Megawatt of wind power. We can now produce 9.  While we can't reverse the environmental degradation that has already occurred, changes like this are a small step in the right direction and lay an important foundation for policy decisions based on sustainable growth.

THIS FRIDAY September 16, 2016 come eat, drink, and play with us as we reflect on the past and look toward the future to celebrate PARK(ing) Day 2016!  We'll be at 201 Westminster Street from 8am-5pm! Take a walk around the city and check out all the amazing pop-up parks brought to you by your favorite local designers and artists - including the debut of RISD's brand new student chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects at 63 Washington Street.  

If you want to learn more about the history of the fight against climate change, check out this interactive timeline of the progress made created by the United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change:  unfccc.int/timeline