ATLANTA (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As populations increase, cities are recognizing the importance of open spaces and nature to enhance the quality of urban living. Laura Solano, a landscape architect and principal at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), is a recognized expert in solving complex landscape challenges in urban contexts through innovative approaches to stormwater management, sustainable soils, plants, and landscape materials. Among materials, Solano has high praise for molded polystyrene geofoam, often incorporated as a lightweight fill beneath landscapes.
“MVVA has been working with geofoam for twenty-five years,” says Solano. Molded polystyrene is a cellular plastic material used to produce incredibly strong geofoam blocks, which are easily moved by hand and carved, sculpted, or stacked to create dynamic landforms in tight spaces. Atlas Molded Products, one of North America’s largest manufacturers of molded polystyrene, strives to be an asset to designers and an ally to builders. “Topography is essential to crafting a landscape that intuitively guides the user,” continues Solano. “Geofoam creates undulation in landforms built over structures without adding much weight.”
At One Bennett Park, a residential high-rise in Chicago, Geofoam helped create a two-acre landscape on top of a below-grade parking structure. With the topography planned to rise as much as 24 feet, designers needed a lightweight fill that could be contoured but would not exceed the limited loading capacity of the existing garage.
“A flat landscape doesn’t inspire; our work is sculptural with lots of topography,” continues Solano. “The configurations we design can be tricky. We do grading plans, lots of studies, and often build models before we are satisfied.”
“The Geofoam manufacturer is almost always involved in the shop drawings,” says Solano. Atlas helps designers specify products and understand critical details such as: how joints are handled; how many gripper plates are needed; and how the foam needs to be cut and carved. For One Bennett Park, Atlas’ helped define a purchase order that included Geofoam in two different densities, and pre-packaged pieces into area-by-area bundles for easier configuration and installation. During construction, Atlas helped contractors understand the assembly process and details.
“Collaboration is essential to success, including leveraging the expertise of manufacturers like Atlas Molded Products,” finishes Solano. “Without geofoam, many of our designs on rooftops and over unstable soil conditions wouldn’t be possible. Geofoam is a very hard-working product that is simple to use with a little practice. It’s well worth the cost.”