A tree planting ceremony celebrated phase one of the $18 million renovation of the Purchase College Plaza. Sixty-two trees will planted in the newly refurbished area. Purchase College President Thomas J. Schwarz planted the first trees with members of the Capital Facilities Planning staff Christopher Gavlick and Sayim Malik; Mark Gaccione, MPCC Construction Corp.; Luigi and Tony Casale, Tony Casale Landscape; Rich Brown and Don Davis, State University Construction Fund.
The trees selected for planting are American Sweetgum and Green Vase Zelkova. Considered excellent shade trees, they are also and tolerant of wind and drought. The soils in which they will be planted were specifically engineered to promote strong healthy trees and an irrigation system is being installed to help establish the trees and shrubs and to keep the plants healthy.
Over the Spring Break the maple trees, which were planted 35 years ago and nearing the end of their life expectancy, were removed in preparation for the new landscaping. Since most of the maples would continue to decline, an arborist recommended full replacement of the trees at this time as renovations were already damaging existing root systems.
Once completed, the new Plaza landscape will include a variety of native and adapted trees, shrubs, grasses and ground cover planted within soils specifically engineered to promote infiltration and plant health. There will
be 228 shade and flowering trees, 1,556 shrubs, 6,342 grasses, and 3,655 groundcover plants to replace the diseased and declining maple trees.
Storm water runoff will be reduced by the introduction of newly created planting areas and raised planting beds over the plaza deck structure.
When completed, Purchase will be a greener campus with sustainable plants that will give rich color and texture for the greater duration of the school year. The new Plaza will have various, gently undulating areas of tree-shaded grass for students to enjoy, as well as a new sitting area on the Southside Plaza with gray-beige pavers that will brighten the look of the entire Plaza.
Some of the wood from the removed and dying trees was given to the Art+Design program, the remaining material was recycled as mulch. The brick pavers will be used on campus for new walkways and recycled for temporary paths, roadbed, parking areas and clean fill. The existing granite is to be recycled as curbing for the new planting beds. New reflective lights will be located along main walkways and at entrances to buildings. New building signs will identify each building and be incorporated into the landscape opposite entrances to academic buildings.
As part of the infrastructure repairs to the waterproofing and drainage systems, the new design will reduce the amount of paved area by 18% to 153,566 square feet, or 55% of the total area. The landscaped area will increase to 126,025 square feet or 45% of the total Plaza area.
According to Christopher Gavlick, director of Capital Facilities Planning,
â€œThe plaza deck and drainage renovations will restore the area as the campus center of student activity and academic life as originally envisioned by master architect Edward Larrabee Barnes.â€