As we pulled up to Nuthatch Hollow last weekend my daughter, who was along for the ride only because I promised to get her new socks afterwards, said “Do I have to get out of the car”? I almost let her stay while I ran down to snap a few pictures around the house but decided against it and forced her to use her legs. I think we may have a new fan of Nuthatch Hollow…
We walked down the existing driveway and explored the areas around the house.
We were getting ready to head back to the car in the direction of new socks when I asked her if she would be up for taking a short hike out into the woods. For the next hour we explored the site and found some really cool places.
And now the challenge… How do you respectfully honor the larger 75 acres of natural area while meeting the functional requirements of moving visitors from arrival points to the new building and surrounding site. We’re still working out the details but here are some of the conceptual ideas we’re refining:
Directly off Bunn Hill Road will be a new bus pull off area outside a new fence intended to keep a portion of the site protected from deer. Directly inside the new fence will be a paved parking area and unpaved overflow parking area. We will be utilizing the existing asphalt driveway where possible and this will lead down to an accessible parking area closer to the new Living Building. A new sidewalk system will begin at the parking area and direct visitors towards the new building. Scattered along this new pathway will be “Information Nodes” or places that highlight some of the special site features that are helping us meet living building challenge requirements or are just good sustainable features. At this point in the design we’re planning to highlight features like storm water harvesting, ground water recharge, reuse of on-site materials, and native plantings.
Closer to the building we’re looking at constructing new bridges that will match the style of the bridges out on the 75 acre site. A new green roof with a deck will cover the portion of the building that reuses the existing building foundation and a set of stone stairs / sitting walls will double as a seating area that wraps around the side of the new building leading visitors to the main entrance. A new multi-use patio space outside the main entrance will be utilized for outdoor classes and large gatherings. In the location of the existing back yard we are looking to meet our agriculture requirements of which the overall extent has not been determined yet.
Informal paths will lead to the existing pond and boathouse structure and a more formal path will lead back to the upper Bunn Hill Road entrance into campus. We will be looking to use native planting for landscaped beds on the green roof and in plant beds surrounding the new building.
After visiting the site this weekend I was reminded that all of this would not be possible if it were not for the donation of the site from Robert Shuman. My daughter found the unique bird feeders scattered around the site to be one of the most memorable aspects and we are currently working out ways to make sure these small monuments are reworked into the new landscape design as a way of remembering the generous donation from Robert Shuman.
Written by Nick Corcorcan (RLA), Landscape Architect, for Binghamton University