Last week, the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) New Mexico chapter awarded Molzen Corbin’s recently completed Girard Landscaping Project as the first-place winner in the special projects category of the Engineering Excellence Awards. As one of the two primary access points to the Albuquerque International Sunport, this corridor of Girard Boulevard is heavily traveled and serves as a gateway to the City of Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico. In addition to welcoming visitors to the Land of Enchantment, this corridor provides access to well-established office buildings on the west side and is home to the new Aviation Center of Excellence on the east side. Hence, the goal of this project was two-fold: design a half-mile corridor that was appropriate and welcoming as a primary access point to our beautiful community while also designing a usable park and recreational area for surrounding businesses and residents. To support the established business community, as well as local residents, Molzen Corbin worked to provide a “park-like” landscaping design for the west side of the corridor, “Girard Park,” which is more than 5 acres. Girard Park incorporated lawn and resting areas, accent walls, and a new 7-foot asphalt multi-use trail providing multi-modal access to the Sunport.
Key features of this project included:
- Unique Recharge Zones: Molzen Corbin included rock-bench rest zones in the landscape design that are nestled in the lawn about 10-feet off the trail. These highly durable, maintenance free areas provide a place for nearby office workers to enjoy lunch and a comfortable stopping area for those enjoying the multi-use trail. Once trees mature, these areas will be shielded from the summer sun.
- Distinctive Accent Walls: Flagstone accent walls were incorporated throughout the length of the corridor to add depth to the landscape design, hide utility boxes and connections, and provide a decorative boundary to undeveloped areas to the west. The walls also match the ACE development “gateway” sign located at the corner of Gibson and Girard Boulevards, drawing the entire corridor design together.
- Multi-Use Trail: In keeping with the City’s goal of promoting and supporting multi-modal activity, the landscaping design incorporates a multi-use trail along the entire west side of the corridor. Recharge zones are located off the trail as not to impede cyclists, walkers, or runners.
- Trail Safety Lighting: Unobtrusive, LED lighting fixtures were selected to provide ample lighting for the multi-use trail in low-light situations while not detracting from the overall park-like landscape design. These fixtures are motion activated as pedestrians approach on the trail, and work to supplement the street lighting on Girard Boulevard.
- Saving Established Trees: Molzen Corbin incorporated existing mature trees into the landscape design to provide a more established look to the landscape and to take advantage of the investment the Aviation Department had made through the years, as well as to protect these existing trees.