ASLA Sierra Chapter Recognizes HELIX
Merit Award for The Preserve at District56
The Preserve at District56 project received the Merit Award in the Parks and Open Space category. Located in the City of Elk Grove’s 56-acre civic center complex (District56), The Preserve is a 30-acre park developed as a community gathering space to celebrate and preserve nature and history. The heart of The Preserve is the 4.5-acre perennial pond with four habitat islands where trees and snags were retained, and wetland vegetation added to provide cover and food for aquatic wildlife. Visitors interface with the pond through the bridge overlook, a shade-covered picnic overlook, and an amphitheater at the water’s edge to support educational activities.
Children are immersed in nature as they explore, play, and interact with the pond. The thematic playground features a variety of interactive activities for all ages and abilities. The Sensory Plaza facing the playground invites a multisensory nature experience through touch, sound, vision, and smell. Opportunities to gather and create social connections span the great lawn, fitness court, picnic areas, and playground.
Native grasslands have been restored and artificial burrows were installed to invite burrowing owls, a California species of special concern. Additional habitat was provided by installing bat boxes near the pond to encourage bats to roost and eat, which helps control insects without the need for chemical pesticides.
Furthest from the bustling civic center are passive uses, with walking trails, oak woodland, and an homage to Elk Grove’s agriculture heritage through preservation of a pistachio orchard and silo. The principals of the Historic American Landscape Survey were used to preserve the form and massing of the pistachio orchard, editing the self-seeded trees to retain the grid form indicative of orchard landscapes of the time. Interpretive signs tell the story of the natural features and history. Close coordination with the City during design ensures the site can be programmed for community events, recreation, and educational opportunities.
Meredith Branstad Honored with Legacy Award
During the event, HELIX’s Principal Landscape Architect, Meredith Branstad, from the firm’s Folsom office, was also presented with the Legacy Award recognizing her years of service to the organization and to the profession of landscape architecture, through volunteering as an executive committee member, encouraging high school students to pursue landscape architecture through the CREATE Mentor program, and teaching at UC Davis.