Facilities Services receives 2018 Public Spaces Award
The Facilities Services Grounds Department has been awarded the 2018 Public Spaces Award from the Gainesville City Beautification Board for the courtyard of the Academic Research Building. The ARB of the UF College of Medicine is a very busy and high-profile location on campus. The terraced courtyard is the site for hundreds of people to enjoy their lunch or break, and has become a favorite area for new faculty, potential donors and others visiting UF to pass through.
The courtyard is quite shady and previous attempts to grow turfgrass have not been successful. This led to a landscape which included many bare areas, was not very interesting, lacked color and often became weedy.
Donna Bloomfield and Tom Wichman of the UF Facilities Services Grounds Department settled on a design that would include lots of color, bold textures, and new-to-campus plant material. Most of the existing landscape was removed, with the exception of the Chinese Elm trees and some larger azaleas. The result has been a vibrant and interesting landscape that displays blooms throughout much of the year.
The design includes three varieties of Encore azaleas. These azaleas provide multiple bloom seasons throughout the year and have proven to be very successful on the UF campus. Another plant being used on campus is the Camellia sasanqua ‘Shishi Gashira’, a low-growing camellia that flowers in the fall. To provide a bold texture, the UF team chose to use leopard lilies. The leopard lily (Farfugium japonicum ‘Gigantea’) had not been widely used previously on campus, but it provides a bold texture with its large green leaves and clusters of small yellow flowers in the fall. Holly ferns were added to provide an attractive tropical looking groundcover.
The installation and maintenance of the courtyard landscape has been handled by Phillip Seay and his crew. The ARB Courtyard is kept mostly weed free by utilizing organic mulch and the personal touch; a Chinese Elm that was blown over in hurricane Irma in the fall of 2017 had to be replaced.
The courtyard now seems to be full of life as people from all parts of the campus flock there for the beauty and serenity of the space.
The project was managed by Tom Wichman, Asst. Director of Facilities Services, Donna Bloomfield, Grounds Superintendent and Phillip Seay, Maintenance Supervisor.