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Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) Features Permeable Pavers R&D

Landscape Architect Magazine (LAM) profiled an internal research project that culminated in the fabrication and installation of permeable pavers at Sasaki’s campus. Courtney Goode and Breeze Outlaw, landscape designers at Sasaki, shared the genesis of their research and design with LAM, detailing the process of prototyping and producing the pavers, as well as the installation outside Sasaki’s own building.

Goode found impetus for the project, which was funded through Sasaki’s research grant program, following the devastating flooding that Houston, TX endured in 2016. What if, thought Goode, the urban environment had been better prepared for stormwater inundation? Permeable pavers are one such strategy that, paired with larger infrastructural systems, can help reduce the impact of storm surges. The problem with many permeable pavers currently on the market, for Goode, is that they often place function over form—yielding an effective yet visually displeasing product that designers shy away from specifying on projects.

After months of iteration—both in the digital and physical realms—Goode and Outlaw had perfected the geometry of the pavers and found an appropriate concrete mix that provided the necessary structural integrity. Orifices in the pavers themselves, paired with 1/8” spacing around all edges create a surface that drains water at an exceptionally fast rate. Once all the kinks had been worked out, the team created a site plan for an entry approach at Sasaki’s campus, cast 240 pavers, and installed them over a deep gravel bed that serves as a drainage and retention basin.

Beyond the successful design and installation of the high-performance pavers, the research project represents the best of interdisciplinary practice—Sasaki’s most celebrated trait. In laying the initial groundwork for the research, Goode consulted several leaders in the firm to brainstorm ideas—ranging from material specification to best 3D modeling platforms—and to identify possible challenges to implementation. As the project unfolded, Goode and Outlaw held open work sessions in Sasaki’s Fab Lab. All told, more than 30 colleagues from different disciplines at Sasaki, many of whom had never worked in a fabrication shop before, showed up to learn how to mix concrete for the pavers.

“One of the things that surprised me in a good way was the potential for it to build a community here at Sasaki,” says Goode in the article. From first sketches to final casting and installation, Goode cites that 36 Sasakians donated over 300 hours to the project.

For a deep-dive into the process, read the full LAM article here.

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