than a Pretty Campus
secret is out nationwide. There is a lush oasis of greenery
within the perimeters of SF State -- a landscape whose beauty rivals
that of any urban campus.
SF State received the Green Star Award in 2006 for best-maintained grounds
of an urban university. One of two national awards presented by the
Professional Grounds Management Society, the Green Star pays tribute
to the skill and dedication of SF State's landscape and hardscape teams.
At 4 a.m., while most of the city sleeps, staff members clean SF State's
many walkways and paved plazas. At 5:30 a.m. grounds crews swing into
action, fixing sprinklers, mowing, planting and pruning.
In addition to leading the way in landscaping, SF State's Grounds Department,
led by Director Phil Evans, is also gaining a reputation for its innovative
work related to inclusive design. The latest example: wind chimes. Hung
in strategic places across campus, the chimes serve as non-visual navigation
tools. Initiated by a visually impaired student, chimes signal major
intersections, and their metallic jingle also offers a soothing sound
amid the hectic rush to and from class.
Thanks to input from student focus groups organized by the Disability
Programs and Resource Center, and assistance from sound engineers and
specialists in orientation and wayfinding, a diverse variety of audible
clues about the landscape will soon be heard on campus even when the
wind isn't blowing. During the spring semester, Larry Klingenberg's
engineering students rolled out a rugged, solar-powered device that
plays a computerized recording of chimes and other sounds selected for
clarity among the many competing noises of a busy urban campus. Mike
Day, a senior in product design, managed the sound selection and design
and fabrication of the attractive housings, which are being installed
throughout the campus, creating a web of audible landmarks.
"SF State has a leadership position in making public spaces more
inviting," says Evans, coauthor of "Accessible Landscapes,
Designing for Inclusion," a textbook used nationwide. In 1990 he
collaborated with design and industry faculty members Brian Donnelly
and Robert Natata on a study that has led to such multipurpose campus
enhancements as benches and study tables that have sliding seats and
elevating tabletops -- to better serve the diversity of users in a busy