ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

4 Ways Landscape Architects are Helping Bring the Stress-Relieving Wonders of Nature to All

04.06.22 by Krista Looney
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Have you stopped to smell the roses recently?

It’s the time of year when trees are flowering and wafting their sweet scent through the air. Daffodils are in bloom and buds are poking their heads out, getting ready to burst into a multitude of colors in celebration of the cherished arrival of spring as we close out another blustery, gray winter.

But maybe you’ve been too busy to notice…after all, it’s also the time of year when second quarter projects are kicking off at work, weeknight and weekend schedules are filling up with outdoor sports and events, and end-of-the-year school projects are in full swing with finals only a few short weeks away. 

Who has time to smell flowers?!

It turns out that April is World Landscape Architecture Month AND National Stress Awareness Month. Coincidence? I think not… 

Stress and its role in depression, anxiety, and overall physical health has become a hot topic in recent years, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. Chronic stress comes with a myriad of health issues ‒ high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, and more. 

But do you know what’s been proven to combat stress? Nature. 

A number of studies have proven that spending time in or around nature has a significant positive effect on state of mind and physical well-being. Spending as little as 20 minutes in nature has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Even a simple view of trees or greenery from your window as opposed to a harsh urban setting can improve mood and overall health.   

Of course, not everyone has a forest in their backyard or has the means or time to make a pilgrimage out to famous breathtaking, natural venues, such as the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone. But nature doesn’t have to be overwhelming or intense to make a difference. And thanks to Landscape Architects, bits of nature might be closer than you think. 

The purpose of Landscape Architecture is to create functional, efficient spaces for people to work and live in outdoor settings. Often, this means working peaceful, natural environments into urban sites. By doing so, they make nature accessible and equitable, bringing it to those who might not otherwise have opportunities to take advantage of the benefits nature has to offer. In such a high-stress day and age, being able to immerse yourself in nature should be as easy as walking out your door, no matter where you are.

Here are some little slices of urban nature brought to you by Landscape Architects that you can seek out close to home or work when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed:

  • Parks 

Of course, parks are a great way to get outdoors without having to go far. Hiking a short nature trail, enjoying the peacefulness of a pond or fountain, or even just sitting in the shade of some trees over your lunch break can be enough to bring some calmness to your life. 

Ruby Grant Park ‒ Norman, OK

Before joining Wallace Design Collective, Howell & Vancuren was selected as the lead designer and consultant to prepare design and construction documents and oversee construction for the first phase of the park's master plan. This 150-acre park provides a natural escape for the community, with picnic pavilions, a paved multi-purpose trail (over two miles in length), cross country course, dog park, disk golf course, wildflower and native plantings, interpretive display for land donor and history, playground with emphasis on users with physical limitations, practice and open play areas, landscaping, and more.

Ruby Grant

  • Botanic Gardens

You don’t have to travel to the famous Kew Gardens in London or the Keukenhof Garden in the Netherlands to get your fill of flowers and plant life. There’s likely a local botanic garden in your area that is waiting to be explored! Take a Saturday afternoon to immerse yourself in stunning, beautifully-crafted landscapes of native flowers, grasses, trees, and water features.

Tulsa Botanic Garden ‒ Tulsa, OK

Tulsa Botanic Garden worked with our Wallace Design Collective landscape architects and 3.Fromme Design (Sanford, FL) for the new half-acre Stanford Family Liberty Garden at Tulsa Botanic Garden. Groundbreaking was held on February 24 with an estimated timeline for construction of 10 months. The Stanford family gave the lead gift to fund the Liberty Garden which will be constructed adjacent to the new Bumgarner Family Lotus Pool and will be built in conjunction with it by Manhattan Construction and JONESPLAN, LLC.

tulsa botanic garden

created by dji camera

  • Commercial/Community Design  

Keep an eye out for green spaces in urban business districts. This could be a courtyard garden escape, a welcoming entry plaza featuring trees, planters, and benches, or an outdoor food court with flowering trellises and shady nooks. A little bit of green and the calming, white-noise trickle of water from a water curtain or fountain can bring a much-needed sense of calm and tranquility to a community space.

One Williams Center Terrace Renovation ‒ Tulsa, OK

Wallace provided landscape architectural services for the Plaza Level renovation of the BOK Tower in downtown Tulsa. The Terrace boasts a new food hall, interior lounge, and exterior terrace, which will provide indoor and outdoor luxury amenities and green spaces for those who work downtown or frequent the central business district.

one williams rendering

  • Streetscapes and Urban Design 

More and more businesses are paying attention to the economic and community benefits of streetscaping. If you work or live downtown, take note of where you can find well manicured streets with trees, flowers, planters, or grassy parkways. The next time you need a quick, refreshing stroll but don’t have time to head to the park, you’ll know where to go.  

Santa Fe Square ‒ Tulsa, OK

Santa Fe Square is the culmination of a decade-long transformation of the Blue Dome District into a hotspot for urban living in Tulsa’s downtown. This new development will transform two city blocks of under-utilized surface parking into a vibrant public gathering place.

Wallace is providing landscape architectural services for streetscapes and courtyards for the new 675,000 square foot, urban mixed-use development. Santa Fe Square will feature retail space, office buildings, multi-family residential units, and a parking garage - all thoughtfully intertwined with nature and green spaces. 

Landscape Architects are working to bring nature and its stress-relief benefits closer to home. Make sure you take the time out of your stressful, busy schedule to seek out these peaceful havens and stop and smell the flowers ‒ your mental and physical well-being could depend on it. 

Find out more about Wallace Design Collective’s Landscape Architecture services here.

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Krista Looney

Structural Engineer

Ms. Looney has over nine years of experience in the field of structural engineering. Krista has performed structural assessments, inspections and roof evaluations on structures across the United States. She has also performed rapid assessments of and designed repairs for structures damaged by high winds, earthquakes and other natural phenomena. She has been a licensed engineer since 2015.

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