April 27, 2017 / Member News

Mahan Rykiel Associates Wins Two Awards from MD ASLA Including The Traveling Award for Innovation

Maryland ASLA awards group photo

(Left to Right) Katie Vocke, Scott Rykiel, Jennifer Saunier, Ken Schmidt, JoAnn Trach Tongson, Benjamin Boyd.

Baltimore, MD (April 27, 2017) – Mahan Rykiel Associates (MRA), a Baltimore based landscape architecture, urban design, and planning firm, is pleased to announce that the firm is the recipient of two awards from the Maryland Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. This year Mahan Rykiel is the proud recipient of the Traveling Award for the Maryland Green Tracks Pilot Project. The Traveling Award is a “prestigious award for a project that uniquely reflects and solves the most current issues in landscape architecture through innovative design excellence”.
Green tracks are vegetated rail systems used in lieu of ballasted track systems, that provide multiple environmental benefits such as reduced urban heat island effect, increased water retention capacity, evaporative cooling, phytoaccumulation of pollutants, particulate deposition, noise mitigation, as well as benefiting health and well-being, urban design and aesthetics, and economics. With research only available for European green track installations, four test sites were selected in Maryland to study and monitor soils and plant types for vegetated tracks over a three year period. To our knowledge, this pilot project was the first of its kind in the United States. More than 140,000 miles of rail exists in the U.S. and only a little over 7 miles have been constructed using a green tracks system. As stormwater regulations expand and rail infrastructure increases, this data provides valuable research for installing future green tracks across the country.
The research team included Ken Schmidt, JoAnn Trach Tongson and Rudraksha G Jhaveri. For this research, Mahan Rykiel was presented with the 2017 Traveling Award. The awards were selected by a jury of peers that included members of the Pennsylvania-Delaware Chapter of ASLA and were presented at an awards ceremony at the Baltimore Creative Alliance on April 19, 2017. MRA collaborated on this effort with the Maryland Transit Administration, WSP | Parsons Brinkerhoff, RK&K and JMT.  Richard Jones, President of Mahan Rykiel said, “We thank our peers for recognizing this important research. Our team worked hard to provide a resource for those furthering innovative strategies to integrate green technologies into our nation’s rail networks.”
Pentagon Row, a successful mixed-use community on Joyce Street in Arlington, received the Honor Award.  Mahan Rykiel was hired to transform a barren and outdated plaza with minimal vegetation and poor visibility into a vibrant hub of activity throughout the year. The design synthesized input from multiple stakeholders including leasing agents, restaurant tenants, retailers, designers, and engineers, the owner and county agencies. A chief concern of the community was to improve multi-season programming and visitation, including doubling the size of the winter ice rink without hindering the ease of walkability.
The central spine of the design, a dominating paving arc that emphasizes movement through the plaza, reveals dining, retail and recreational activity to the street front.  New fountains have become focal points — animated with sequenced lights and jets—that encourage children to interact. A fireplace with adjacent lounge seating encourages shoppers and residents to use the space for extended periods of time. The non-traditional geometry stemming from the arched pathway creates a variety of distinctly human-scaled spaces throughout the plaza that create a welcoming atmosphere.
Form and function balance for optimum sustainability as well as aesthetics, creating a rich material vocabulary. This is seen in wood decking that serves as a pervious surface to satisfy stormwater regulations. The wood provides a warm sophisticated design element not often found in retail centers while maintaining maximum usable space. This decking also protects the root zones of the trees, creating a healthier environment.
Pentagon Row is now home to multiple winter and summer festivals, year-round entertainment, outdoor dining, green open space, a beautiful promenade, and the largest outdoor ice rink in Northern Virginia, distinguishing this community from other retail competition in the area.
The design team included Scott Rykiel, Katie Vocke, Ryan Johnson, Brian Shadrick, Warren Timlen, and Brown Craig Turner Architects.
Mahan Rykiel Associates is a full service landscape architecture firm with a staff of 45, serving clients on five continents. Visit our website at www.mahanrykiel.com .