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Child Care Center at Hort Woods Wins Design Award

We are pleased to announce that the Child Care Center at Hort Woods at Penn State has won a 2017 Merit Award from the Pennsylvania Delaware Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects! We were the landscape architect for the project, part of an integrated team including architects StudioMLA and nature play expert Robin Moore from the Natural Learning Institute. The design of the outdoor learning environment reflects the University’s understanding that environment is curriculum and that contact with nature is central to children’s well-being and development. The sensory-rich design provides a variety of settings and elements that immerse children in a daily experience of nature. Children develop ecological literacy as they play, learn, and build in the shade of mature oak trees preserved throughout the playground. Learn more here.

Missy honored with AHS Great American Gardener Award

This June, Pashek + MTR Firm Principal Missy Marshall was recognized at the 2017 American Horticultural Society Great American Gardeners Awards where she received the Landscape Design Award. This award is given to an individual whose work has demonstrated and promoted the value of sound horticultural practices in the field of landscape architecture. Congratulations Missy!

For full information about the Great American Gardeners Awards, click here.

Pashek Associates and MTR Landscape Architects have merged!

Award-winning Pittsburgh planning & landscape architecture firms Pashek Associates and MTR Landscape Architects have merged to become Pashek + MTR. By combining the strengths, specialties, and staff of both companies, we provide even greater capacity to help our clients realize their goals.

Pashek Associates, founded by Jim Pashek in 1984, has demonstrated excellence in park and recreation planning and design, community planning, and urban design. The firm is well known throughout Pennsylvania for projects that raise the bar for community engagement and sustainable site design in the public realm. Jim and his staff have particular expertise in facilitating an interactive and collaborative design process, which is an excellent fit with MTR’s core values of listening and responsiveness.

MTR Landscape Architects, founded by Missy Marshall, has had the privilege of working with botanical gardens and arboreta throughout the U.S. MTR has also been active in our local region, working with clients such as the City of Pittsburgh, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, and private residences. We are proud to serve veterans and their families with design work at National Cemeteries around the country.

MTR and Pashek Associates share a commitment to sustainability and improving the world around us, creating exceptional places that connect people with nature and with each other. Our landscape architects and community planners create exceptional outdoor environments for clients of all kinds, including nonprofit organizations, municipal, state, and federal government, public gardens, architects and engineers, and public & private schools and universities. We are a full-service firm with experience in every phase of project development, from planning to construction.

As Jim and Missy gradually transition into mentorship roles over the next several years, landscape architects John Buerkle, Nancy Roman, Sara Thompson, and Kara Roggenkamp will continue in a leadership capacity at Pashek MTR, putting a combined 78 years of experience of planning, site design and development at our clients’ fingertips. Our staff of talented, credentialed design and support professionals marries experience and creativity with skill in communicating with our clients and communities.

We’re excited to be a growing firm that values listening to our clients and being responsive to their needs. Underlying that responsiveness is respect – for the communities where we work, for the natural and built environment, and for people who use the spaces we plan and design.

Pashek Implementable Plans now “tools” at County Planning website

Implementable Comp PlanAllegheny County has included resources for the Implementable Comprehensive Plan in its updated website for “Allegheny Places,” the county’s comprehensive plan.

Calling growing interest in the implementable approach to planning “an encouraging trend,” the site includes several examples from Pashek Associates among the downloadable resources. (See: http://www.alleghenyplaces.com/implementation/toolbox.aspx )

The state Department of Community and Economic Development and Pashek Associates pioneered the Implementable Comprehensive Plan. This model of planning emphasizes noticeable and tangible change in the issue areas that citizens find most pressing and most do-able. The main goal of an Implementable Plan is to kick-start desired change in a community – not so much to produce a thick comprehensive plan book.

The Allegheny County planning toolbox web pages highlight recent plans Pashek Associates created with various communities, and a “case study” of the firm’s collaboration with The Township of Pine. Pashek Associates currently is working on Implementable Comprehensive Plans for the City of Jeannette (Westmoreland County), and Crafton and Ingram boroughs (Allegheny County), and is about to begin working with Churchill, Monroeville and Wilkins Township for a multi-municipal implementable plan.

The New Wild: Can Invasives Actually be Good?

the new wild Most of us have bought into an ecological ideology where invasive species do not exist and native plants thrive in a balanced system. In the design world you get points for sustainability if you remove invasives and use native plants. But a new paradigm is evolving as scientists study how natural systems adapt to human impacts.

In “The New Wild – Why Invasive Species will be Nature’s Salvation” Fred Pearce argues that there is no such thing as pristine nature. In addition, nature is neither “stable nor perfectible.” However, current conservation efforts seek to return ecosystems to a static, pre-human state by protecting endangered and weakened species, thereby breaking evolution, holding back adaptation. Pearce writes, “If we want to assist nature to regenerate, we need to promote change, rather than hold it back.”

Pearce argues that invasives, and aliens in general, may be our best bet to heal “the damage done by chain saws, plows, pollution and climate change.” For example, the spreading of Japanese Knotweed may be an indication that nature is bouncing back, reinventing itself for the twenty-first century. In many cases, those invading species accused of crowding out natives have simply taken up space where natives can no longer survive and are declining. In other instances, such as with the water hyacinth, alien invaders may take over due to pollution, and in fact provide an important pollution filtration role. And when pollution decreases, so does the alien species.

While Pearce does acknowledge that there are horror stories about alien species disrupting ecosystems, most of the time introduced species die out or settle down. He and a growing number of scientists claim that aliens have greatly increased biodiversity and can provide important roles in “novel ecosystems” – composed of natives and those introduced by humans. As environmentalists, Pearce believes we should embrace this new ecology and celebrate nature’s capacity for change within the New Wild.

This is a provocative new line of thinking. What’s your opinion? Several of us in the office are also reading “Bringing Nature Home – How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants” by Doug Tallamy. Two very different schools of thought. More to come later…

Jim Pashek Receives APA PA 2015 Planning Leadership Award

Jim at APA PA conferenceYesterday the American Planning Association Pennsylvania chapter presented Jim with their 2015 Planning Leadership by a Professional Planner award. The award was conferred at the association’s annual conference Oct. 20, 2015, in Pittsburgh.

The award recognizes outstanding, significant and sustained contributions to the profession through distinguished practice, and places Jim among “the best and brightest in Pennsylvania Planning” in 2015.

Jim has demonstrated over the course of his 40- year career that professionals should facilitate change, not only in communities but also in the profession. He has helped devise new methods of community planning, shared lessons learned, and relentlessly championed grass-roots approaches as the most practical, useful and long-lasting.

Accepting the award, Jim said, “Today is a great time to be a planner, with so many terrific trends going on in the field. But I have a three-part challenge for everyone in the room. I’d like to ask all the planners assembled here to do these things: To do excellent work; to give voice to those who are not at the table; and to do what you are doing in a sustainable manner. With these steps we can most effectively make a positive difference in the communities where we work.

Help us welcome Jessica Fegley

Jess IMG_6095

Jessica Fegley joins Pashek Associates, a Pittsburgh based landscape architecture and community planning firm, as a landscape designer. Jess earned a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania, in May 2015. She was a research assistant at Penn State University from January 2015 to May 2015.

She earned many awards from Penn State including a Distinction Award in May 2015; Excellence in the Study of Landscape Architecture in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and American Society of Landscape Architects Student Awards of Honor and Merit Nominee from the ASLA Penn State Chapter in April 2015. She also earned a Parkland Garden Club Scholarship from Parkland Garden Club in 2010 and a Student Ecologist Award from the Lehigh Gap Nature Center in 2010.

A Grass Roots Success Story – East Ohio St Ped/Bike Improvements

East Ohio Concept Plan 3-03-15 cropIn late 2014, the Northside Leadership Conference Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee learned PennDOT District 11-0 was in the final design process for improvements to the section of East Ohio Street between East Street and Chestnut Street. This corridor has one of the highest rates of vehicular/pedestrian accidents in PennDOT District 11-0, a three-county area.

Representatives of the North Side committee asked to review the PennDOT plans, and realized there was an opportunity to include pedestrian and bicycle improvements in the design. Nick Ross, chair of the committee said, “Everyone is a pedestrian at some point during their trip, and many also ride bicycles. We need to be thinking beyond car rides, and incorporating healthy transportation choices into our daily routine.” Abe Stucky, the Leadership Conference’s community organizer, then mobilized and coordinated the committee’s efforts with PennDOT, the City of Pittsburgh Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator Kristin Saunders, City Transportation Engineer Amanda Broadwater, and representatives of BikePGH.

At that point Pashek Associates, a landscape architecture and community planning firm with its office adjacent to the project area, offered assistance. John Buerkle, president of Pashek Associates and a member of the committee, and Sara Thompson, a Pashek Associates principal, reviewed and evaluated PennDOT’s proposed improvements. Then, with input from Stucky and the above organizations, they prepared a plan demonstrating how best practices for bicycle and pedestrian facilities (from the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials and the National Association of City Transportation Officials) could be incorporated into the plan.

East-Ohio-Concept-Plan-3-03-15-webCheryl Moon-Sirianni, PennDOT District 11-0 Assistant District Executive for design, said, “Pashek’s design made a convincing argument for the improvements, as they took into consideration PennDOT’s goals and objectives for the vehicular improvements and worked within the constraints of the physical environment to incorporate these pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements along the corridor.”

On March 4th, PennDOT held a public meeting to unveil the final design for the East Ohio Street Improvements project. Citizens attending the meeting supported the proposed pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

Nick Ross said, “Our proposal was a long shot. We approached PennDOT at the 11th hour in their design process. They had every reason to say we came too late into the process, and therefore our proposed improvements could not be implemented. However, PennDOT recognized the improvements would improve the safety of the pedestrian and bicycling environment, and was committed to incorporating those improvements into their design.”

John Buerkle said Pashek Associates, located along East Ohio Street since the 1990s, was pleased to donate work for this endeavor. “We want to give back to the neighborhood through our design work, and we truly believe these improvements will not only improve safety for pedestrian and bicyclists, but also will have a positive impact on the East Ohio Street business district.”

He added that the improvements are a small piece of a larger plan for bike-pedestrian corridors. The North Side committee is working toward an overall pedestrian and bicycle master plan for the neighborhood. Immediate goals include extending bike lanes along East Street to the northern neighborhoods and Riverview Park, and working with the city and county to extend bike lanes along Chestnut Street and the 16th Bridge to connect to the protected bike lane along Penn Avenue through the Downtown/Lawrenceville corridor.

The East Ohio Street improvements will be constructed over the next two years, beginning this summer and concluding in fall 2016.

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