Central Station

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Designs to unite residents

the more we can create sociable environments for communities coming together, the better social environment we're going to have.

For Jeffrey Miller, landscape architecture is more than just plants, waterfalls and decorative rocks. For Miller, the founder of San Francisco's Miller Company Landscape Architects, it's about uniting living spaces and bringing people together.

"My impetus to be a landscape architect came out of a question - how to design social and public space so that there were better relationships between people," he said. "It wasn't a nature-based beginning, it came from more of a sociological perspective."

Take Pacific Cannery Lofts, for example. The development, which is built around an old cannery warehouse, has a dining room entry court and a living room courtyard with two large U-shaped seating arrangements. A linear garden grove runs between the condo units in the cannery building and the three-story townhouses that were built just to its east.

"That grove is sort of a garden street extension of Pine Street into the project," said Kevin Wilcock, a partner with David Baker + Partners architects, which designed Pacific Cannery Lofts. "The units are accessed off of that grove, and people hang out on the raised porches there, and its setup really encourages interaction and circulation throughout the complex."

"I think landscape architecture is just as important as good architecture as far as I'm concerned, especially here in California," said Rick Holliday, founder and president of Holliday Development, which has worked on a handful of projects with Miller over the last two decades. "You know, if we were in Manhattan, it probably wouldn't matter; you'd just have put some plants in hallways. But here, you really want the outside to come inside and the inside to come outside. People want to have a relationship with the outside in Northern California, and doing that well is critical to doing good infill housing." [Complete Story]

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