Designing within the environment.
The planting concept for The Bubble is based on the premise that it will be built in a wooded area and the landscape design will respond to that surrounding. Planters have been designed around the seating areas to enliven the space and integrate it with the forest around it. The structure itself creates a type of canopy, shading and filtering sunlight. Using understory and forest floor plants in the planters inside The Bubble will contribute to a sense of being in the middle of the forest. Rocks, logs, and leaf debris will be added to planters to maintain this forest feel. Native plants suited for dry shade will be used to minimize watering needs, which can be watered via a greywater system that collects runoff from the structure and parking lot.
The upper level of seating will be planted with shrubs to create a sense of enclosure and protection for people seated above ground level. Groundcover and flowering plants will be mixed in the planters to add color and texture.
The middle level has the largest planters and the plantings will take advantage of this with field-like groupings of ferns and taller herbaceous species. These planters will be filled with a mix of textures and color from flowering plants. Vines will grow over the walls of the planters that are open on the side to add texture and seasonal interest at both entrance points.
The small planters on the lower levels will contain a mix of groundcovers and flowering plants. The plantings will remain relatively low so as not to block sight lines to the stage.
Potential Species for Forest Understory
Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), and
Mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium).
Blue-stemmed goldenrod (Solidago caesia),
Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides),
False Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum),
Hairy beardtongue (Penstemon hirsutus),
Lady fern (Athyrium felix-femina),
Pennsylvania sedge (Carex Pensylvanica),
Tall thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana),
White wood aster (Eurybia divaricata),
Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), and
Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum).
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).
Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens),
Barren strawberry (Walldsteinia fragaroides),and
Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens).
The circular patches of grass designed for seating will be made of a realistic artificial turf to withstand both the climate, wear of use, and require less maintenance.
The “lawn” areas surrounding the meadow and in the tree beds will be walkable areas with a maintained look that frame the landscape and show cues to care around more wild plantings. This will be a mix of native species, based on the actual site conditions, that do not require mowing and can light foot traffic.
The areas surrounding the Bubble, disturbed by construction, between the “lawn” and the forest will be planted as a meadow with clumps of shrubs that will succeed back to forest over time. This dynamic habitat offers an educational opportunity about succession, local ecologies, and disturbed landscapes. It also creates an ecotone, or transition between ecological communities, that provides important habitat for birds. The plant selection for this area will also be based on the site conditions.