Blackhoof Park at Lake Lenexa - A Post Occupancy Evaluation

Blackhoof Park at Lake Lenexa - A Post Occupancy Evaluation

…The ipe wood boardwalk has weathered to a lovely silvery grey, the trees have begun to mature and provide shade, and shrubs and wetland have matured and filled in providing wildlife habitat as well as gorgeous backdrops for countless senior and wedding photographs! Like all living landscapes, however, plantings are never meant to be static and in some cases nature has forcefully reclaimed areas meant to be formal landscape beds. As an unirrigated project, several trees and shrubs have struggled over the years in the hot, dry summers that plague the Midwest.

Vireo has committed to visiting the majority of our built works over the next year, documenting and learning from what we discover in the field. We will share some of our findings here, as well as other quick walk-throughs of some of our favorite designs.

Nature as the Blueprint for Better Designs of Intentional Landscapes

Nature as the Blueprint for Better Designs of Intentional Landscapes

Why do we value our natural environment as part of design? Maybe it’s just the serenity or peacefulness away from the ‘norm’ of the day. Maybe it’s an internal stirring that we find from a woodland, Savannah, or grassland that justifies borrowing from these basic characteristics as one approach to designing the intentional landscape?

Site design and landscape solutions are generally crafted with varied degrees of formality, complexity, and diversity. The notion of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, aside from proper horticultural principles, can be a matter of preference and flair.

Little Boxes Make a Big Difference

Little Boxes Make a Big Difference

They may seem like a small touch to some, but they’ve actually been part of a massive effort to bring about the largest resurgence in the city’s history.

Ten years ago, city leaders recognized that downtown would have to be, as they called it, “clean, green and safe” to attract the kind of reinvestment in downtown they were hoping for and that many thought could never happen. One of the key components of greening downtown was a system of planter boxes throughout the city, adding a touch of life to every block and creating a softer, friendlier environment.

"A God-driven experience" with a '68 Ford

"A God-driven experience" with a '68 Ford

As landscape architects, we're proud of what we do and we're passionate about creating spaces that make a difference. But it's not every day we get to be a part of a story like this one. In what our clients can only describe as a "God-driven experience", a simple idea to include an old pickup truck in a Memory Playground for a memory care facility connected generations of families from Olathe, Kansas to Kearney, Nebraska.

Workers lifted the modified '68 Ford into place at Cedar Lake Village this week, but its journey started almost 50 years ago.  It's a story you really need to hear, and it's one that reminds us how what we do today can echo for years or even generations to come.

We Love It When a Plan Comes Together

For the past four years, our trail designers have been working on an active transportation trail through Kansas City that will eventually connect 103rd Street at Alex George Lake to the Missouri River. While some parts involve new, wider paths over existing sidewalks, some parts are a lot trickier.

Construction crews worked this week to place an 80-foot pedestrian bridge on a dime, just west of 51st and Hardesty and over a stream feeding the Blue River. The steel and wood bridge, trucked in from Alexandria, Minnesota, weighs nearly 28 tons and had to fit perfectly to the mounting bolts on each abutment, with a total margin of error of about two inches. And it fit like a glove.

Safer Streets for All

For decades, we’ve been building roads to make way for more cars, but something happened along the way – we made some of them nearly impossible for anything but driving a car. Bike lanes and shared use paths have been gaining in popularity, though, and the Federal Highway Administration wants us to know there’s funding for safer street designs that slim down roadways and make them more pedestrian-friendly. In fact, look for some of those tax dollars at work over the next year as Wornall Rd. goes on a road diet near  75th Street in Waldo.

Overland Park Makes It Easier To Ditch Driving

Overland Park has been known for a lot of things around town, but an extensive network of bike trails and lanes hasn’t been at the top of the list…until now.

The City of Overland Park adopted a bicycle master plan in April that will easily change the face of bicycling in the city and in Johnson County. The City Council overwhelmingly approved plans for 263 miles of bicycling infrastructure throughout the city, including buffered bicycle lanes, marked bike routes, shared use paths and shared lane markings (we call them sharrows).

While it does come with an estimated $27 million price tag, it’s worth pointing out that it’s going to take a while to get it all done, which spreads the price out. The study also estimates that 75% of the proposed bike plan (200 miles) could be put in place for less than $3 million and would be phased in over the next decade or more.

And it doesn’t mean rebuilding existing roads – mostly just reconfiguring how they’re striped when the time comes to redo what’s there already. With that, and a few new trails, the city has taken a really important step in making it safe and convenient to bike from one block to the next or from one end of the city to the other. It’s all in the plan.


Vireo spent the better part of a year working with Toole Design Group on their first-ever comprehensive bicycle plan. We can’t wait to see how it changes Overland Park for the better in the years to come.

Let's Ride!

If you've ever wanted to ride your bike right down the middle of Ward Parkway (and live to tell the tale) here's your chance. Kansas City's Cycle In The City is coming up May 16 from 2-5pm and everyone's invited. For the full scoop, check out

During Cycle In The City, Ward Parkway will be closed to motorized traffic and opened to anything on feet or wheels. And it's not just a bike-a-thon. The grass medians will be filled with attractions and activities for all ages from live music to yoga.

While it may be a novelty around here, open streets festivals like this one have been growing in popularity around the world. You can check out a brief history here:

Biohacked Blooms: the Nerdy Gardener's Dream?

Flowers that change color in the garden aren’t a new idea. Just ask hydrangea lovers. But petunias that change color in 24 hours are new. It’s not science fiction, a Colorado-based science duo have already produced a petunia that blooms red when watered with a special solution, and then goes back to blooming white when watered with normal water.

The team set up a crowd-funding campaign to financially back further development of the petunias to meet United States Department of Agriculture standards. Once the petunias pass the USDA’s approval checklist, they can be released into the market where gardeners will be able to purchase them at their local garden center. The first petunias could hit the market in 2017.

Check out the team’s IndieGogo campaign page to get more information. If you’re a nerdy gardener like me, you may even want to float them a few campaign bucks to make it happen.

The same team, Revolution Bioengineering, is also working on developing a petunia that changes from pink to blue and back to pink. It will cycle from one color to the other every twelve hours, based upon the plant’s natural circadian rhythm; no chemicals, just sunlight and soil. They’re calling this one the “Petunia Circadia”. Now, that’s nerdy-cool.