McClellan Ranch: Preserving Nature and History

Located in the Monta Vista neighborhood of Cupertino, the McClellan Ranch Preserve is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with nature.

The Stevens Creek Trail at the McClellan Ranch Preserve.

Once the site of a horse ranch owned by the McClellan family in the 1930s and 1940s, the 18-acre natural preserve is now home to the local 4-H Club, the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, and a large community garden.

The property features the original ranch house, a working milk barn and livestock barn, and two transplanted buildings: a replica blacksmith shop and a water tower.  It also features an Environmental Education Center opened in 2015.

Visitors to the preserve can participate in an after-school nature program, enjoy some birdwatching, help with a habitat restoration project, learn about the area’s history, or follow the paved Stevens Creek Trail that winds through the preserve to Blackberry Farm and the Stocklmeir Orchard.

Designed by SSA Landscape Architects, GraniteCrete was chosen to pave the Stevens Creek Trail “primarily for its natural looking aesthetic and for ADA-accessibility purposes.”

Christian Harris, one of the architects on the project, said SSALA “uses GraniteCrete frequently and will continue to use [it] on projects ranging from residential installs to public parks. We like the look of the product, its durability relative to other decomposed granite stabilizers, and that we can use it as an accessible surface.”

We’re thrilled GraniteCrete was chosen to play a key part in helping visitors enjoy this beautiful and historic preserve.

Wyandotte Park: A Little Slice of Heaven

Located in the Rengstorff area of Mountain View, Wyandotte Park is nestled in a tiny lot between industrial business and homes.  Taking up 0.9 acres, the park provides neighboring residents with a much-needed open space and play area.

The city of Mountain View has an admirable goal to devote three acres of property per 1,000 residents to public park and recreational facilities; Wyandotte Park helps the city accomplish this.

Despite its size, the park is packed with a variety of components to satisfy visitors of all ages.  It features play structures and fitness equipment, an open lawn, benches, public art, and even a giant abacus with rock beads. 

Tying it all together is an overarching nature theme that includes “floating” rocks on metal poles, a leaf-shaped balance board, and landscaping boulders.  Throughout the park, there are areas of decomposed granite stabilized with GraniteCrete.  As a natural-looking and environmentally-friendly product, GraniteCrete was the perfect paving choice for this green space.

The abacus in Wyandotte Park, on top of GraniteCrete.  Photo by Olivia Treynor.

Golden Gate Park’s Pawsome Update

In San Francisco, Golden Gate Park is a true treasure and oasis amongst the hustle and bustle of the city.  Visited by 24 million people each year, it stretches over 1,000 acres and has something for everyone, including: gardens, picnic areas, numerous trails, a disc golf course, and a dog park in each quadrant.

The newly-renovated Dog Training Area at Golden Gate Park.

One of these dog parks—known as the Dog Training Area, located near the Bison Paddock—recently underwent a renovation thanks to a generous grant from the California Natural Resources Agency.

The renovation included numerous improvements and updates, including new picnic tables and benches, replacement of the fencing, a multi-level dog fountain, new landscaping, and accessibility improvements to the parking lot and pathways throughout the area.

For the pathways, San Francisco’s Public Works department chose GraniteCrete paving material. GraniteCrete stood out as the best accessible choice because it requires minimal maintenance and is “firm and stable, non-slip, and permeable.”

GraniteCrete is thrilled to be part of the Dog Training Area’s fetching transformation, and hope visitors and their four-legged friends enjoy it for years to come.

UCSC Chooses Sustainability

At the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC,) the Coastal Science Campus covers 100 acres, and encompasses several buildings that play significant roles in the university’s Coastal Sustainability Initiative.

GraniteCrete paving outside the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, UC Santa Cruz.

The Coastal Sustainability Initiative addresses various environmental issues with a focus on the health of coastal ecosystems around the world.  At the Coastal Science Campus, some of the facilities that help with achieving this goal are the Joseph M. Long Marine Laboratory and its Seymour Marine Discovery Center, as well as the Coastal Biology Building that opened its doors in 2017.

The Coastal Biology Building is an impressive 40,000-square foot building designed by EHDD Architecture.  It features various laboratories and offices to support both faculty and research. The building is equipped with a 125-foot seminar room, analytical labs, and a natural running seawater laboratory.  

When designing the surrounding landscape, landscape architects Joni L. Janecki & Associates (JLJA) were careful to consider the substantial impact this project could have on the fragile ecosystem surrounding the project.

GraniteCrete was uniquely qualified to meet these concerns while offering a sustainable and lasting solution.  JLJA chose GraniteCrete as a paving solution, and pushed for its inclusion for an 8-foot-wide walkway surrounding the Coastal Biology Building.  The aesthetics of the walkway add to the natural beauty of the campus and the surrounding area.

Installation of the walkway was completed by Graniterock Construction Division. The ease of installation and quality of GraniteCrete’s Admixture was recognized by Graniterock installers: “Everyone loves it. It really holds up well.”

GraniteCrete is proud to partner with fellow sustainable organizations such as the UCSC Coastal Science Campus, as they prioritize positive environmental practices.

GraniteCrete permeable paving pathway alongside the blue whale skeleton at UC Santa Cruz.
“Ms. Blue” is a blue whale skeleton at UC Santa Cruz; it’s one of the largest skeletons of any kind, displayed anywhere in the world! 

Mia’s Dream Come True: All Abilities Playground

Daniel Vasquez and Emelyn Lacayo had an uncomplicated dream: The creation of an ultra-accessible and inclusive playground where their daughter Mia—and people of “all ages and abilities”—could play and enjoy the outdoors.

Clockwise from top-left: Daniel’s sketch; the playground under construction; the airplane and water tower; the entrance to the playground.

From the time she was born at just 33 weeks, Mia has been a fighter.  Weighing just over two pounds at birth, she spent 100 days in the NICU and left the hospital weighing just five pounds.  Facing a host of health issues, doctors told her parents she likely wouldn’t live to see her first birthday, but Mia defied the odds.

As she’s grown, she’s developed a love for visiting parks and enjoying the outdoors.  Since she is unable to walk, her parents used to take her to the nearest accessible playground in Palo Alto whenever possible.  Due to the distance, traffic, and Mia’s needs, a trip to this playground would often be an all-day excursion.

In 2016, when Mia was eight-years-old, Daniel was inspired to sketch a design for an accessible playground that would be a little closer to their home in Hayward.  After securing funds from the Make-a-Wish foundation to help make this playground a reality, Daniel and Emelyn approached the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District Foundation (HARD Foundation) for additional support.  With the foundation’s assistance, what had once been a humble sketch soon morphed into a formal set of plans.  Two years later, ground broke on the playground and it was completed in 2020.

Christened Mia’s Dream Come True: All Abilities Playground, the playground features play areas modeled after notable places in Hayward.  Among these are:

  • A firetruck donated by the Hayward Fire Department that has been refurbished into a wheelchair-accessible play structure
  • A large airplane structure for the Hayward Executive Airport that has a wheelchair-accessible swing set hanging from its wings
  • A water tower

As a complement to these accessible play structures,  the ADA-accessible paving material GraniteCrete is used throughout the playground.  We are thrilled to play a part in helping people of all ages and abilities enjoy this wonderful and inclusive playground for years to come.

Restoring Nature: Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve

The Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve sits just outside of San Jose.  Encompassing 1,432 breathtaking acres, it has a rich history – it was once a logging operation, the site of a huge mansion, and the location of a Jesuit theology school.

In the late-1990s, it was also the planned site for a shiny new golf course and luxury housing development.  Fearing that such urbanization would “harm the rural character of the area,” environmentalists worked swiftly to halt these plans, and convinced Santa Clara county supervisors to block the development.

Nearly twenty years after the development plans were blocked, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (“Midpen”) completed the first of three phases to restore this area to its former glory.  This first phase included: removing invasive plant species to allow wildflowers and other native species to thrive; introducing drainage improvements to reduce erosion; and creating six miles of new hiking and equestrian trails, with an ADA-accessible path around Upper Lake.

To pave these new trails, Midpen selected GraniteCrete – a permeable and environmentally-friendly paving material that maintains its integrity even when subjected to rainfall and heavy traffic, perfectly complementing Midpen’s goals of reducing erosion and providing ADA-accessible pathways.

GraniteCrete was also chosen because it can be installed later in the traditional construction season.  It can be installed under wetter conditions – and has a shorter cure time – than similar paving options.  We at GraniteCrete are proud to have played a role in helping restore the Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, and we look forward to seeing what Midpen achieves in the following phases of restoration!

The Culinary Institute of America at Copia Achieves Sustainable Perfection

Located in Napa Valley, California—the pinnacle destination for exploring the world of food and wine—the Culinary Institute of America at Copia (CIAC) campus achieves sustainable perfection.

GraniteCrete permeable paving pathway at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia Napa.
GraniteCrete is featured next to the reflecting pool walkway at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia

“CIA at Copia is a first for The Culinary Institute of America, entirely dedicated to offering its innovative, industry-leading food and wine education and experiences to the public. It opens a window into what the CIA truly is: a visionary thought-leader and innovator in food and beverage, with world-class faculty and facilities.” 

-Thomas Bensel, managing director of CIA’s California campus

The CIAC is a branch of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).  It’s led by Strategic Initiative Groups, which works with other culinary institutes to ensure guests and students are provided with the best and most up-to-date information.  The Copia building was originally utilized by the Copia museum from 2001 to 2008; the CIA acquired the building in 2015 and redesigned the facility with sustainability in mind. 

The CIAC campus is truly a sustainable marvel.  It features various solar, water, and renewable material strategies in its design. The campus also prioritizes stormwater runoff management and the mitigation of the urban heat island effect.  Not only does GraniteCrete perfectly address these issues, it’s earth-tone color beautifully complements the amphitheater and the entrance to the facility where it was installed.

The CIAC demonstrates sustainable excellence, while offering the top culinary education and experience for the community.

At Hirondelle House, GraniteCrete Helps Create a Terrific Terrace

Located along the Silverado Trail, Clos du Val Winery has been producing award-winning, estate-grown wine for nearly fifty years.  To accomplish this, the winery has three vineyards: State Line Vineyard and Riverbend Vineyard located in Yountville, and Hirondelle Vineyard nestled in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley.

In addition to creating delectable wines, Clos du Val seeks to create lasting connections—“between our customers, our vineyards, our wines, our people and our history.”  There’s no better place to forge such connections than over a tasting at the Hirondelle House.

One of the three outdoor terraces at Hirondelle House.
Image property of⁠—and courtesy of⁠—Clos du Val Winery.

Opened in 2018, the Hirondelle House is a remarkably beautiful and contemporary tasting room.  Its design allows visitors to connect with the “estate vineyards, the historic winery and legendary wines.”  For those wanting to enjoy their wine al fresco, Clos du Val offers the Hirondelle House Members’ Terraces.  These three terraces have ample seating to accommodate small and large groups, a fire pit, and shade-providing trees.  When additional shade is needed, outdoor umbrellas are available.

These umbrellas are attached to rolling bases with very small wheels.  When the terraces were being constructed, Clos du Val quickly realized it was difficult to roll these umbrellas across the decomposed granite originally installed as the paving surface.  Despite having a stabilizer mixed in, the decomposed granite simply wasn’t sturdy enough; the stabilizer also failed to allow water to permeate, causing water to bead on the surface.

To easily correct these issues, a switch to GraniteCrete was suggested by Tom Price of Price Landscape Surfaces.  As a firm and ADA-compliant paving material, GraniteCrete has proven to be an excellent surface that is “working perfectly.”

People and Pets Enjoy Carmel’s Scenic Walkway

Carmel-by-the-Sea is known for its quaintness and beauty—and rightfully so.  Located on the Monterey Peninsula, those who visit Carmel-by-the-Sea are instantly charmed by the picture-perfect coastal views, the rich art history, and the almost-unbelievably dog-friendly attitude throughout the area.

GraniteCrete Pathway Carmel Scenic Road

GraniteCrete Pathway Carmel Scenic Road

 

 

 

The Scenic Road Walkway after its installation in October 2005.

 

 

 

 

A throwback to a bygone era, the houses and shops in Carmel-by-the-Sea don’t even have numbers in their addresses – they’re just know by their nearest intersection.

So it’s no surprise that millions of visitors flock to the area year-after-year.  Travel sites offer plenty of ideas for activities to participate in and places to visit.  Near the top of these lists is the Scenic Road Walkway; one has to only look at a handful of visitor-snapped photographs to understand why.

GraniteCrete Pathway Carmel Scenic Road GraniteCrete Pathway Carmel Scenic Road

 

 

 

 

 

The Scenic Road Walkway in Carmel has held up beautifully over the years, as shown in these photos taken on a rainy day in February 2019.

 

 

 

 

The Walkway’s History
Given the adoration it receives, one would expect the Walkway to have been a part of Carmel’s fabric for decades.  In reality, the Walkway—which was designed by Hall Landscape Design—was installed less than fourteen years ago, in late 2005.

To complement the beautiful landscape of the area, GraniteCrete’s natural/gold color was chosen to bring the Walkway to life.  As a paving material that is both durable and free of any environmentally-harmful substances, GraniteCrete truly enhances the surrounding scenery and drives home the “Scenic” in the Walkway’s name.

GraniteCrete provided its admixture, and local company Graniterock provided the decomposed granite for the pathway; Graniterock’s own construction division expertly mixed and installed the paving material.  Over a decade later, the Walkway’s transitions are still stable, and it is enjoyed by pedestrians and four-legged companions alike.

One Million Visitors a Year
Running along Carmel Beach, the Scenic Road Walkway is so popular with tourists that nearly one-million people walk it each year.  The three-mile-long path offers pedestrians the opportunity to feel the crisp ocean breeze, while enjoying the breathtaking views of the Carmel Coastline.

GraniteCrete is proud to have played such a key role in creating this pathway brings so much pleasure to so many people.

Linden Park: The Metamorphosis of a Space

Tucked away in the Redwood Oaks neighborhood of Redwood City, Linden Park has operated as an oasis for residents since it first opened in 1972.  A so-called pocket park, it has long provided a refuge from the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life and a safe place for neighborhood children to play.

Linden Park GraniteCrete Permeable Pathway
This GraniteCrete pathway allows visitors to easily move through Linden Park.

A Time for Change
After several decades of community use, in 2011 the park was temporarily closed by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) so it could run underground water pipelines through the area.  Once the pipelines were laid, plans to renew and reopen the park began.  This was not simply installing new playground equipment and removing the construction fences keeping residents out of the lot – it took a lot more to get the park back online.

Unexpected Setbacks
Since the park is located on land owned by the SFPUC, plans for the park had to be designed to meet its rigid standards.  The underground pipelines limited how deep into the ground traditional park objects—such as footings and tree roots—could go.  This meant that traditional play equipment, trees, or utilities couldn’t be installed.  So, the architects for the park – SSA Landscape Architecture – had to get creative.

After careful planning and design, it was almost time to break ground and begin rebuilding Linden Park.  However, before this could happen, the SFPUC revised its engineering standards and recreational use policies.  The plans for the park came to a screeching halt.  The project team had to redesign its rebuilding plans – again – to fit the new standards and policies.  Finally, after reworking the park design and obtaining approval for the new plans, construction on the new park finally began in early 2017.

Our thanks to the City of Redwood for these photographs.

Caterpillars, Cocoons, and Butterflies
Opened in late June of 2017, the new Linden Park features a unique “Butterfly Lifecycle” theme.  Children (and maybe some adults) play and interact with caterpillar and butterfly structures throughout the park. They balance, jump, and hop across strategically placed “tree stumps.” They seek refuge under willow arch structures – as though they are safely inside a butterfly cocoon.

In addition to designing the play structures to meet SFPUC standards, the paving material between the structures also had to meet these standards.  The SFPUC doesn’t allow subsurface drainage pipes to be installed, making permeability and reduced stormwater runoff important challenges for the architects.

A Natural Home for GraniteCrete
So, SSA Landscape Architecture turned to GraniteCrete.  Not only is GraniteCrete incredibly durable – making it perfect for an area that will see plenty of foot traffic – it’s also permeable, allowing water to pass through, reducing stormwater runoff.  And GraniteCrete added to the aesthetics of the park; its color and texture perfectly matched to the beautiful, natural theme of the park.  Due to SSA Landscape Architecture’s incredible work, they’ve received two awards for Linden Park: the 2017 CPRS Award of Excellence in the Neighborhood Class 1: Excellence in Park Planning & Development category, and the 2018 APWA Silicon Valley Chapter Public Works Project of the Year.

In the end, the community got a unique, beautiful, and environmentally-friendly park through the combined efforts of Redwood City Parks, Recreation and Community Services’ Landscape Architect Claudia Olalla, SSA Landscape Architecture, C2R Engineering Inc, Director Chris Beth, and the many individuals who made up the project staff.  Children have been flocking to the new structures to play over, under, and around them.  Parents and other adults stroll along or sit happily in the park, enjoying the beautiful surroundings and the sights of the clever playground.

GraniteCrete is proud to have been chosen for this project and wishes the community many great decades of use from their lovely park.