Posts Tagged "denver"

One Last Good Deed – Life After Life Parks

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Over the last couple years, Tannenbaum Design Group has been working with Life After Life as they reinvent the cemetery industry for the benefit of people and nature.

What exactly does Life After Life Do?

We Build Parks.

Life After Life (LAL) empowers deathcare as a way of bringing new life to distressed communities. LAL is a new model of regenerative development for the future of people and the planet. LAL takes difficult-to-reuse, abandoned properties and transforms them into public park amenities. These parks are supported in perpetuity through conservation easements, public incentives, sustainable celebrations-of-life, and peripheral land development, in order to preserve the public amenities and historic legacy of communities for generations to come.

Support: LAL parks support underserved communities and remediate pollution, providing them significant physical and mental health benefits.

Protect: LAL parks protect biodiversity, create more resilient communities, and combat climate change.

Replace: LAL parks replace defunct property, bringing new life into distressed communities, while offering a sustainable alternative to the notoriously toxic and unaffordable options available for end-of-life care today.

How is Life After Life Different?

As a a nonprofit organization, Life After Life Foundation is working to to change the perspectives around end-of-life and the motivations for planning ahead on their head. The fact of the matter is, only 30% of Americans have any plans at all for how they would like their body to be treated in the end. This has perpetuated a very destructive and exorbitantly expensive funeral industry to continue.

Reflected in their Motto, ‘One Last Good Deed’. – Life After Life offers the customer the priceless value that a loved-one’s loss, can be a part of something bigger. They provide the opportunity for a person’s last choice to contribute to healing the planet – leaving things better than they came. Additionally, they hope to bring people together through placemaking and community building activities pre-time-of-need, something completely lacking in the traditional funeral and cemetery industry.

Through the acquisition and transition of abandoned property into a public good, LAL brings new life to distressed communities. Many of our lowest income urban communities suffer from a preponderance of polluted brownfields and a scarcity of greenspace. These brownfields often lie abandoned because the market incentives to remediate them are too low for conventional development. While the public sector may lack the finances to remediate them and build the public amenities that the community and environment needs, Life After Life is able to transition the dilapidated land into healthy and beautiful memorial parks.

Community Benefits

Crime Reduction: The greening of vacant urban land has been shown to reduce crime. Domestic violence in particular has been found to be 25% less prevalent in nature rich housing developments. Cleaning and greening vacant lots has led to a 9% reduction in gun assaults. In Baltimore, MD, 10% more tree canopy was found to reduce crime by 12%.

Education: Studies show that outdoor learning delivers many benefits — reducing stress, improving moods, boosting concentration, and increasing a child’s engagement at school. Simply having more tree cover in a neighborhood can account for as much as 13% of variance in student outcomes. Exposure to nature provides the opportunity to teach the natural sciences hands-on, building empathy for nature and an interest in STEM.

Physical Health: Hospitals with a view of nature recover more quickly and require less painkillers than those without. Tree leaves absorb 95% of all ultraviolet radiation and 75,000 tons of harmful air pollutants annually. Parks induce exercise in communities, particularly for lower income populations. Nearly 80% of Americans report using local recreation services such as parks.

Mental Health: People who have spent at least two recreational hours in nature during the previous week report significantly greater health and well-being. Low levels of green space exposure during childhood increase the risk of developing mental illness by 55% higher than for those who grow up with abundant green space. Women living in the highest percentile of green space around their home have a 12% lower mortality rate than women living in the lowest percentile. Short term memory is improved by 20% from walking in nature.

Microclimate: Neighborhoods in a highly-developed city can experience temperatures 20°F hotter than rural areas. Extreme urban heat is a public health threat. It amplifies air pollution, increases energy consumption, and can cause serious harm to those working outside or without air conditioning. Parks and trees can decrease temperatures up to 45°F, providing cool and safe spaces for residents.

Biodiversity: Extreme biodiversity loss looms in our near future. One million species are now in threat of extinction. The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, 33% of reef-forming corals, and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. Insect populations have declined by 75% over 3 decades. Three-quarters of all land environments and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions. The creation of urban parks allows for the protection of some of our most vulnerable species.

Economic Opportunity: City parks strengthen local economies and create job opportunities. Parks attract residents and businesses, increase revenue for cities, spur private investment, and increase job opportunities. In Denver, $1.2 million in federal park grants resulted in over $2.5 billion in local public and private investments. Riverwalk Park in San Antonio, created for $425,000, is now lined with outdoor cafes, shops, bars, art galleries, and hotels, and has overtaken the Alamo as the most popular attraction for the city’s $3.5-billion tourism industry. Retail revenues generally are found to be 30 percent higher in districts with trees.

Why Now?

Biodiversity Crisis: Rising temperatures and rampant habitat destruction threaten species today at unprecedented levels. 18 million acres of forest are lost every year. More than 600 species are estimated to start going extinct every century.

Soil Crisis: According to the FAO, one third of all the world’s soil is now degraded from unsustainable agriculture practices. Soil is a finite resource, meaning its loss and degradation is not recoverable within a human lifespan.

Pollution Mitigation: There are likely over half a million ‘brownfields’ in the U.S. alone. Conventional brownfield remediation, or the act of removing debris from a site and moving it to a landfill, is ineffective and inefficient. The nature based solutions of phytoremediation and bioremediation remove these harmful pollutants from the soil and water with permanence.

Mental and Physical Health: Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness today. 7.74% of adults in America reported having a substance use disorder in the past year. In the last 20 years, the prevalence of obesity increased by approximately 40% and severe obesity almost doubled. A growing body of epidemiological evidence indicates that greater exposure to natural environments is associated with better health and well-being in urbanized societies. Living in greener urban areas is associated with lower probabilities of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma hospitalization, mental distress, and ultimately mortality, among adults; and lower risks of obesity and myopia in children. Greater quantities of neighborhood nature are associated with better self-reported health, and subjective well-being in adults, and improved birth outcomes, and cognitive development, in children.

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Your membership with Life After Life Foundation means no less than 30 new square feet of habitat gets built and maintained for generations to enjoy.

Don’t wait to make a good plan. Join an event filled community, immortalize your history, and rest easy knowing you have a beautiful final resting place waiting for you, whenever your time is up.

Let’s make the world a little bit greener!

Life After life. Life After Life. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from https://lifeafter.life/

Date: Nov 17, 2022
AUTHOR: tbaumdesign

Why is biodiversity so important, anyway?

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see how your redesigning you outdoor space as a native pollinator garden can play a critical role in the fight for biodiversity in out most endangered urban habitats.READ MORE

Date: Nov 9, 2022
AUTHOR: tbaumdesign

Placing a Value on Design

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Design fundamentally has two elements – Form and Function. Function is the tangible aspects. What is it? What can I do with it? It’s easy to compare apples to oranges, see what is demanded across a population, and then ultimately put a price tag on what people are willing to pay for it. A deck for a deck, a shade structure for a shade structure, etc… Form, however, is much more intangible. It’s a subjective feeling about the creation. Is it beautiful? How do I feel in it?

When a Landscape Designer puts a price on their work, they are putting a valuation on their own time and projecting that out as a fixed bid estimate of their total expected time expenditure. But how much is the product created actually worth? How do we account for the value of the form, not just the function? For that, we look to secondhand sales to find out.
In 1999, a study conducted by Clemson University looked to quantify the effect of different quality landscaping improvements on the ultimate home sale price. They studied the effect that different properties in a wide variety of locations and conditions sold for using landscape quality as the variable. What they found was that with all other variables accounted for, an excellently landscaped property could fetch up to 14 to 17% more at sale then one with landscaping rated as poor. In Denver today, that’s equivalent to $70,000 more for the average home!

Turn those drive-bys into walk-throughs, get more bids, and sell for more.

There is a cost to the investment of labor and materials to make the jump from poor to excellent, but the benefits will still far outweigh the costs. Rarely do our residential landscaping projects in Denver cost even 10% of the value of the home. Numbers crunched, that’s up to a $29,000 instant profit with the sale of your average Denver home.

When looking at your outdoor spaces don’t be afraid of the price tag. The money is being invested as equity into the home with a buffer of profit to dream big and create a space you will love. The best way to maximize the value of landscape designing is to plan ahead. Moving into a new place is the perfect time to start planning your outdoor spaces. A more established landscape is worth more to the property and you get to thoroughly enjoy it while you live there.

Outdoor lighting, good yard maintenance, and well placed trees will always pay for themselves in the end. Designing for varietal leisure spaces, noise reduction, visual barriers, creating a cohesive aesthetic with the architecture, crafting a clean outdoor look that makes the house feel cared for – Those are some of the more subtle design challenges that people will subconsciously pay top dollar for.

None of this, however, accounts for the added benefit energy and water savings that a sustainably designed plan provides for the home. Not only do you create a curb appeal that makes you proud of where you live and an outdoor space that makes your home feel bigger and more versatile, but everyday utility and maintenance costs can be drastically reduced ultimately paying for the improvements themselves.

Tannenbaum Design Group for these reasons is proud to announce a new collaboration with GreenSpot Real Estate. We are now offering FREE customized designs with any Buyers or Sellers Agency Listing agreement with the purchase or sale of any home. We want to reinvent the way the home sale industry works by adding more value back into your homes than is paid in the commission. As a seller you profit! As a buyer you get to buy a house you like and turn it into a home you love, for free! What is your sister’s college roommate’s broker friend giving you for the cost of that commission? If you do the math, it makes no sense to go anywhere else.

Date: Jul 23, 2018
AUTHOR: tbaumdesign
Comments: 1

The Green Roof Initiative

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Obviously as designers of green roofs, we are very happy about  the Green Roof Initiative being passed this week. But more so, the environmental and energy efficiency benefits of green roofs make for a no-brainer. For those who do not know, the Green Roof Initiative (Ordinance 300) mandates, “every building, building addition, and any roof replacement of a building, with a gross floor area of 25,000 square feet or greater, constructed after January 1, 2018 shall include a green roof or combination of green roof and solar energy collection.” Specifically, the total coverage of rooftop requirements increases 10 percent every 50,000 square feet, eventually capping at buildings of 200,000 square feet or more with 60 percent of the roof requiring coverage by gardens or solar panels.

So let’s discuss the benefits of green roofs, first, from an environmental perspective. Green roofs provide air quality benefits to the city by filtering particulates from the air in the same manner all green space does. They help to mitigate the effects of urbanization on water quality, often dramatically, by filtering, absorbing and retaining rainfall. And ultimately, from a nonhuman-centric mindset, the green roofs restore biodiversity to the urban environment by returning green space habitats to the local ecosystem.

So now let’s discuss the benefits from an economic perspective. Denver’s status as of a 2014 study by Climate Central, found the city has the third-greatest urban heat island effect of any American city. An effect partially produced by the radiating of heat off rooftops and pavements. The only American cities that ranked higher are Las Vegas, Nevada and Albuquerque, New Mexico. (The urban heat island effect is the raising of the temperature in the urban environment in comparison to the surrounding areas). In the summers, by implementing green roofs on the macro level, we can significantly reduce the overall heat index and our energy consumption used to cool buildings. (Urban heat islands are also affected by the reflection of the sun’s rays off the sides of buildings, particularly glass building. The effect can be so intense that it can actually scorch trees and grass. A problem ultimately, solvable with more use of green walls, but we’ll leave that initiative for another day, as we wait for green wall innovation to catch up and make more economic sense.)

On the micro, per building level, green roofs also work to insulate structures by reducing the amount of heat entering a structure in the summers and holding on to artificial heat from the inside in the winters. In addition, the green roof protects the top of the structure from hail damage and wear from the intensity of the sun, ultimately reducing repair and maintenance costs of the roof when compared to a standard roof. From and energy perspective alone, green roof have been found to provide a return on investment within five or six years in many cases.

And finally, from a social and psychological level, green roofs and green spaces in general, provide a mental health benefit called Biophillia. Those who get to enjoy the new view of nature instead of the concrete jungle have been shown to experience therapeutic benefits.

A green roof has a vast range of functional opportunity as well though. Green roofs can be made into community gardens, social spaces, recreational areas, and even meeting spaces in an outdoor setting. The initiative doesn’t have to be looked at solely as a dysfunctional space at higher cost but rather an opportunity, with the required addition of the structural integrity, to turn the roof into a usable space.

Unlike many environmental initiatives, this benefit doesn’t come from taxes at all, because the cost is up to the building owner who in the end is saved money by energy savings. The only people who don’t benefit from this proposal are large scale developers who simply want to build as much, as quickly, and as cheaply as possible to sell. That’s a mindset that hardly represents the best interest of the people of Denver, the ultimate consumer.

Date: Nov 14, 2017
AUTHOR: tbaumdesign
Comments: 2

Scandinavia Study – Cold Hardy Vegetation and Contemporary Minimalism

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Invasives and Natives

We as landscape designers look to enhance the local outdoor setting through the use of natural materials. Often times there are many native species and materials that can accomplish the aesthetic we are searching for. When designing for the quintessential Colorado architectural styles of American Bungalow or Mountain Rustic, the use of natives to match can be ideal. Local stones and local species can round off the great Colorado archetypes that we are chasing. Many times in the era we live in though, architectural styles are imported. In these circumstances, the landscape pallet of locals might not be the complete pallet desired. In such circumstances it is important to consider import choices carefully.

Historically, very little attention was paid to invasive species. To date, across the western world, we are battling the mistakes of the past. Because of the lack of attention when importing horticulture, we now have pests such as the nightmarish fire ants, the emerald ash borer that devastates out forests, and the Asian tiger mosquito that many of us know well. Many times however, it is the plants themselves and the weeds hitchhiking in the soil that can be the most destructive to the ecosystem. One of the best examples of this is the Kudzu vine. A vine introduced in the late 1800s, Kudzu was hailed as a great planting solution for erosion control. Now having made its way into the wild, the vine can grow up to a foot a day, completely overtaking even entire trees and shading them to death. Now kudzu, like many other species, are a constant battle wreaking havoc across the continent.

With that said, there is nothing inherently evil about the use of foreign vegetation in the landscape. It is only when the species used have the capacity to spread into the wild, and out-compete the native vegetation, that it becomes an issue. So, how do we as landscape architects in a challenging horticulture climate like Colorado, with limited off season color in the native pallet, responsibly preserve the ecosystem while creating beautiful outdoor spaces? For that, we have a number of considerations.

  • One option is to simply use foreign species that will not survive our winters as highlights within the landscape for seasonal “pop”. In this circumstance we preserve the ecosystem by using annuals that don’t have the capacity to become invasive.
  • A second option is the use of sterile cultivated hybrids and single gendered plants so that the species do not have the capacity to reproduce and spread into the wild. In this way we can scour foreign locations for incredible plant species and use them without ill effects.
  • Another consideration is the use of regional plants from close climates cultivated locally. Over time these species from nearby can acclimate and begin to withstand our winters. In this way we are simply expanding the range of semi native species and pushing the envelope of their domain slightly. An acceleration of a natural evolution if you will.
  • Lastly, we can consider the use of species that can survive in the urban environment, where we enhance the native soils and irrigate, but would be unable to survive outside of that micro-ecosystem. With the use of sustainable systems such as rain water collection and home composting, there can be no real environmentally damaging effects.

With all this in mind, in the end, it is important to remember our role as environmental stewards. When the opportunity to propagate endangered local species back into the environment presents itself, we should take it. Natives aren’t to be forgotten or ignored as they often have become in recent years, but that doesn’t mean that a landscape that that uses foreign species as highlights is necessarily failing in our role in creating a sustainable future.




In design, we don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. There is a big world of ideas out there to learn and develop off of. Colorado may not have a great history of landscape architecture but there are areas of the world with similar environments that do, and we can learn from them. One of those, for us here, is Scandinavia. (i.e. Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.) Humanity has been practicing landscape design for many centuries in these countries. The way they design for the harshness of winter, to avoid bare bleak landscapes is inspiring. They design for it, instead of suffering through it.

As contemporary architecture progressively takes its foothold here too, we can again look to our Scandinavian friends for inspiration. As major arbiters of this post modern era of architecture, they push the envelope of landscape design as well. How do you extend the contemporary aesthetic from the structures themselves into the spaces between? There are few cultures more progressive than the Scandinavians in this regard.

At the end of the day though, the best teacher of landscape design is nature itself. To go into the natural environment and recreate the juxtapositions and symbiosis there, produces some of the best results. Few places on earth will take your breath away like the fjords and archipelagos of sparsely inhabited and untainted far northern Europe. A reminder of how nature looked before people and what we can do to bring it back.

Date: Aug 12, 2016
AUTHOR: tbaumdesign

Central Europe Study – Sustainable Communities, Recycling, & Reclamation

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Post World Wars Central Europe might not have a lot a lot of positives you can say were taken away from the devastation of war. However, when everything is bombed to rubble you certainly have a clean slate to start over from when it comes to design. Many cities like Frankfurt, Bonn, and Berlin that suffered the highest amount of city destruction took the opportunity to rise from the literal ashes with a new era of urban design and architecture.

In Frankfurt, for instance, over 50% of the infrastructure was destroyed by 1945. Today, 52 percent of the city area is green space, consisting of parks, woodland, farmland, orchard meadows, grassland, allotments and hobby gardens, cemeteries, roadside grass verges and bodies of water. And as of 2019, Frankfurt has been ranked the most sustainable in the world.

Sustainable communities can arise naturally over time as well, through the reclamation and re-purposing of infrastructure. When a large industrial site or landfill, that used to be on the outskirts of town, finds itself decommissioned and eventually absorbed into the growing city, it can present a multitude of challenges (i.e. contaminated soils, eye sores, wasted space, etc). Europe’s ancient cities can serve as great examples of how to cope and even benefit from these challenges.

For industrial sites, Landschaftspark in Duisburg, Germany is a patent example of how a derelict site can be reclaimed without disturbing the polluted soils through deconstruction and wasting materials and energy in mass deconstruction. Through this they achieve the addition benefit of preserving a bit of history. Landschaftspark was transformed from a disused old industrial ironworks into facilities with multiple uses into a one of a kind park space. The huge buildings of the former ironworks have been modified to provide patrons with a multitude of new functions such as alpine climbing gardens created in ore storage bunkers and a viewing tower made from a decommissioned blast furnace.  Landschaftspark represents how an area can celebrate its industrial past by integrating vegetation and industry, promoting sustainable development and maintaining the spirit of the site without morning it as an eyesore.

Metabolon in Bickenbach, Germany serves as an interesting example of landfill reuse. Metabolon is a multi-purpose site built upon a decommissioned landfill. The site today takes advantage of the artificial topography to serve as serves as a lookout point, bike track, public park, playground, and research center and more. Converting waste to energy is the most significant goal in the research center. What was a disaster for the town has become an attraction and public benefit.

The benefits of recycling and reclaiming are shared among citizens, tourists, developers, customers, and the environment alike. Firstly, an industrial reclamation project produces ecological benefits to the environment and its inhabitants through the growth of plant materials that harbor ecology that break down pollutants in the soils and filter water runoff. Secondly, by transforming dilapidated space into functional and aesthetic pieces, a city brings economic revitalization to the surrounding area. And thirdly, when site is transformed into a useful and attractive space the area becomes more attractive to potential businesses and tourists.

This mindset of design applies to projects large and small. When we think about renovating our residential spaces we have two options. Tear everything out and start anew, or integrate and recycle. Many people in the industry will take the easy road- remove it all and put in new. I urge more of you to consider the value in preserving and recycling the old. Keep more structures out of the landfill. Integrate those priceless 30 year old shrubs into the plans if you can with a nice pruning. Reuse materials where you can. New is not always better, it’s just cleaner for a few years.

Date: Mar 28, 2016
AUTHOR: tbaumdesign
Comments: 1

Thumbtack Best of 2016!

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What a year! So many new projects. Looking forward to what’s to come!

Date: Jan 27, 2016
AUTHOR: tbaumdesign