BLACKSBURG, Va., April 16, 2010 – A group of Virginia Tech landscape architecture students and faculty in the School of Architecture + Design helped redesign and develop the award-winning north courtyard of the Second Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Va. The courtyard will be dedicated on Sunday, April 18 to the memory of former student of the childcare center Ruby Harvey, who was murdered along with her family on Jan. 1, 2006.
Virginia Tech landscape architecture students and alumni played key roles in the project’s design and development. Richard G. Gibbons, Virginia Tech Legacy Society member, a church elder, and a fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), requested design assistance from the landscape architecture program to redesign the courtyard, which includes a rain garden and a play area for the church’s childcare center, to better accommodate a daycare play area and entrance to the sanctuary.
Terry Clements, associate professor of landscape architecture and ASLA member, and her third-year landscape design and construction studio spent the spring semester of 2009 developing concept plans and models incorporating children’s physical and cognitive abilities with improved storm water management and historic design principles. Rain gardens were an important component in many of the plans.
Finally, 11 student plans were presented to the church membership and critiqued by a design review committee that included Virginia Tech alumnus Lynn Crump, church trustee and ASLA member. Crump received her both bachelor’s and master’s in landscape architecture from Virginia Tech in 1977 and 1995, respectively. Three student designs were selected for development into a final design to meet the creative play needs of the childcare center and the landscape and access needs of the church.
Clements’s students on this project were
Alumnus Jimmy Shepherd, an ASLA member who received a master’s in landscape architecture from Virginia Tech in 1985, of Shepherd Land Planning prepared the final design plan, construction drawings and specifications needed to gain construction approval from the city.
The City of Richmond's Commission on Architecture Review Chairman David Johannas, American Institute of Architects member, said, “The plan demonstrated that innovative storm water and sustainable elements can be included in the design of historic sites which meet the needs of the users.” This rain garden is the first to be constructed in Downtown Richmond and the first to be installed on a historic site. The goals of a rain garden are reducing the quantity of storm water entering the storm water system and helping to filter out pollutants.
The Second Presbyterian Church, located at 5 North Fifth Street, won a Best Small Storm Water Project award from the City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities in 2009. The Pretreatment and Storm Water Awards recognize companies that are 100 percent compliant with their Industrial Waste and Pretreatment Permit and companies that demonstrate environmental stewardship by instituting additional programs in areas such as recycling, spill prevention or natural resource protection.