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Landscape Architect Articles
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Arbolope Studio, Firms of the Upper Mid-West11-07-23 | Feature

Arbolope Studio, Firms of the Upper Mid-West

St. Louis, Missouri
by Staff

Steelcote Flats, St. Louis, MIssouri
Steelcote Flats, St. Louis, MIssouri
Love Bank Park, St. Louis, Missouri
East End Central Landscape at Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

Arbolope Studio is an award-winning landscape architecture, urban design and public art practice based in St. Louis, MO. Founded in 2015 by L. Irene Compadre, our goal is to create legible, technologically innovative, sustainability-minded, and deeply impactful landscapes that help make a happier, healthier and more connected world.
We work with a variety of clients including universities, institutions, and communities, at scales ranging from intimate parks to large-scale urban plans. Working throughout the midwest, we strive to create enduring relationships with the diverse communities that we serve. A 100% WMBE firm, we believe that ecological resilience and social equity go hand-in-hand, and that landscape design has a unique role to play in helping communities become more adaptable in the face of further urban development and climate change.

Steelcote Flats, St. Louis, MIssouri

Sitting within the Mill Creek Valley, the site has a distinct relationship within the city's cultural zeitgeist as a place of historic importance both as a mid 19th century hub of African-American and immigrant life in the city and an early 20th century center for key midwestern industries.

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Arbolope Studio, responsible for the design of the streetscape, parking lot, and amenity deck, was tasked with finding a balance between impactful design, future-facing sustainable site features, and tight budget constraints. Working to ensure that the modest design features at-grade were supported by advanced below-grade landscape technology, Arbolope strategically placed rain gardens along the perimeter of the parking lot, as well as Silva Cells under the planted streetscape. These types of stormwater management and plant-health infrastructure strategies have already paid off. During a recent 1,000 year flood the landscape was able to absorb stormwater with minimal ponding, despite the project sitting in one of the lowest points of the city.
On the second floor of Steelcote Flats, nestled adjacent to existing adaptive reuse buildings, is an expansive rooftop amenity deck that includes a heated pool, barbeque and dining spaces, a large ovoid activity lawn, and lounging areas.

Love Bank Park, St. Louis, Missouri

The vision for Love Bank Park is to create a multi-functional and environmentally sustainable public space on Cherokee Street - a Chicano Heritage District and one of the most multicultural and progressive communities in the City of St. Louis. The curved geometries of Love Bank Park are inspired by Venn Diagrams - in which overlapping curves demonstrate areas of commonalities between unique elements. These curves help define program elements and allude to the desires of the Cherokee Street community to create a welcoming and inclusive neighborhood.
The site, formerly an empty lot, was partially activated by community members who placed basketball hoops in 2015, instantly creating an active community destination. Building on this grass-roots momentum, Love Bank Park provides space and infrastructure for a variety of activities. An open plaza space with seating, chess tables, shade trees and planted areas provides a welcoming place for neighbors and visitors to gather and relax - or during community festivals, provides a place for concerts, dances and other activities. A large basketball play area in the northern half of the park is designed for shooting hoops, half-court and full-court play, and can serve as a food truck court during festivals.
Designed with permeable pavers, permeable asphalt, rain-gardens and planted areas, the site features the region's first permeable basketball court and is a demonstration landscape for sustainable design and sustainable storm-water management. Love Bank Park broke ground this summer and is anticipated to open to the public in the Fall.

East End Central Landscape at Washington University in St. Louis,
St. Louis, Missouri

The East End Central Landscape Project is the largest capital investment in the recent history of the Danforth Campus of Washington University in St. Louis. Awarded the Award for Excellence in Planning by SCUP, the project represents a complete transformation of the main public face of the University.
The East End Central Landscape includes two new engineering buildings, a new building for the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, a new public entrance and expansion of the Kemper Art Museum, an outdoor sculpture garden, a welcome center, and a multipurpose student hub. The project also removes all surface parking lots on the eastern portion of the campus, replacing them with a large underground parking garage and limiting vehicular access to three drop-off plazas at the campus perimeter.
The substantially improved landscape regrades the east end topography, improves circulation and accessibility, provides more open area for formal and informal gatherings, replants the campus' signature tree all?(C)e and provides a new network of clear pedestrian and bicycle paths.
Throughout the project, Arbolope Studio served as the local partner and collaborator with Michael Vergason Landscape Architects.

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